Hong Kong residents come out to clear roadblocks built by protesters

A protester pouring cement onto a makeshift barricade on a street outside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Nov 15, 2019.
A protester pouring cement onto a makeshift barricade on a street outside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Nov 15, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (XINHUA) - After an over-two-hour journey, Mr Michael Tsang and his friends arrived at Sai Wan Ho, Hong Kong Island, at 7am on Friday (Nov 15).

Mr Tsang, in his 30s, put on work gloves first and then started to remove barricades made of bricks and other rubbish from the road. Beside him, scores of people, by hands or using handcarts, worked together to move the blockage to the side of the road.

"I'm just a common Hong Kong resident doing what I should do," Mr Tsang told Xinhua news agency.

When a friend of Mr Tsang told him about the voluntary activity to clear Shau Kei Wan Road last night, he decided to join without hesitation.

"Traffic in Hong Kong was severely disrupted in recent days as roads were blocked and train tracks and stations were vandalised. And we need to do something about it," Mr Tsang said.

As violent incidents in Hong Kong entered the sixth month, rioters escalated their destructive acts during the week by putting nails, bricks and garbage on roads, throwing hard objects onto train tracks and running trains, hurling petrol bombs into trains, and setting fires in MTR stations.

The transport network has been paralysed for days as some MTR stations and lines were shut and passengers had to wait hours for buses.

"We absolutely don't want this," said a woman surnamed Cheung passing by. Due to the disruptions, she could not take the bus or the MTR to the market. She had to walk all the way.

"Such violence is unacceptable and (views) should be expressed in a peaceful manner," she said.

 
 
 
 

Meanwhile, more passers-by began to join Mr Tsang and his friends.

A jogger borrowed a pair of work gloves and picked up bricks from the centre of the road. "We must...take our share of responsibility because police alone cannot do all the job and they also need our support," said the jogger.

With more helping hands, the 100m section of road was completely cleared in about 15 minutes. The effort was rewarded with a resounding cheer from the crowd on both sides of the roads. Several cars moved onto the road slowly from nearby corners.

Similar road-clearing activities were held in various districts of Hong Kong on Friday morning, including Kowloon and New Territories. "My friends and I will continue to clear blocked roads," Mr Tsang said.

While people like Mr Tsang were struggling to put the metropolis back on track, radical protesters still committed disruptive activities on Friday morning by hurling petrol bombs into MTR stations. The East Rail Line was halted and fire and ambulance services in some areas were seriously affected.

Hong Kong lawmaker Horace Cheung called on more Hong Kong people to stand out against violence.

"Violence will not frighten us. As long as we remain united, rioters will not achieve their goal of destroying Hong Kong," he said.