Traffic jams appeared as usual when the Cross Harbour Tunnel reopened after a two-week shutdown due to clashes.
All four lanes of the tunnel opened at 5am yesterday as riot police stood on guard.
Plastic barriers and nets were put up at pedestrian bridges to prevent objects being thrown onto the lanes.
Cross-harbor bus services returned to normal after two weeks of diversions that forced drivers to use the two
other harbor crossings. But the morning saw fewer passengers and buses were seen waiting for commuters.
A passenger working in Causeway Bay said it took her 30 minutes longer to get to work from Tai Wai when the
tunnel was closed. “But on the first day [of reopening]” I felt the air here was not clean,” she said.
Another passenger heading to Fortress Hill from Sha Tin was making her transfer to another bus at Hung Hom. She
said “the smell is really bad. I put my face mask on immediately.”
The electronic payment system has not been completely repaired so motorists cannot use credit cards to pay for
the tolls, but they can use Octopus cards.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said tunnel users would have to pay tolls because the damaged booths
had been repaired. He also said it took 800 workers around 100 hours to repair the tunnel.
A resident said he worried that there would be traffic jams yesterday, so he left home early to catch the bus.
Pro-establishment lawmaker Tony Tse Wai-chuen urged the government to consider alternative cross-harbor
options, including the construction of a fourth tunnel.
Tse said people paid more in transportation costs during the time the tunnel was closed, so the government
should compensate them by cutting public transport fees by half for the next three months.
The free ferry services between Hung Hom or Kowloon City and Wan Chai will end tomorrow evening.
Pro-establishment legislator Ben Chan Han-pan called on the government to continue running the two free ferry
lines, which helped residents during the shutdown.
Chan said the government should also add a regular route between Tsuen Wan and Central, allowing residents to
have an alternative mode of transport.
The tunnel had been closed since November 13 after radical protesters torched it and set up roadblocks during
clashes with police.
A sinkhole 25 meters in diameter caused by a leaking cofferdam wall formed at a West Kowloon Cultural District
construction site, submerging temporary offices.
The WKCD Authority confirmed there was a sinkhole at the construction site of the Lyric Theatre yesterday after
web users posted pictures of tilted temporary offices, construction equipment immersed in water and plastic
barriers sinking into the ground.
“The pipe-pile cofferdam wall sprung a leak at the southeast corner in the early morning, leading to floods up
to two meters in depth in the excavated site,” it said.
“As a result of this breach to the cofferdam, a shallow sinkhole of around 25 meters in diameter emerged
adjacent to the site within the project area.”
It said action was taken by contractor Gammon Construction and the leak stopped at around 9.30am yesterday.
“The authority and Gammon are closely monitoring the situation,” it added.
It said there were no safety issues or injuries resulting from the sinkhole and the works in other areas of the
site were unaffected. The Buildings Department was informed.
An engineer, Albert Lai Kwong-tak, said a large-scale sinkhole is serious and unusual. Lai said a collapse would
have shown prior warnings and that the sinkhole may have caused a loss of sludge due to construction work.
Lai believes the floods happened because the cofferdam wall was not strong enough to withstand the soil
The authority could have underestimated the soil pressure around the area, or the complexity of the geological
environment of the land, he said.
“It is possible to stop it if it is just a leak. But from the photos, this is obviously a one-off large-scale
rush of water.”
Lai added that the incident may affect nearby MTR railway structures due to a shift or a loss of soil and being
After preliminary investigation of the area near railway premises and facilities, the MTR Corp said it believes
the incident has not affected the structural safety of Kowloon Station. But it would still conduct a full
Tony Tse Wai-chuen, legislator for the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape sector, believes that
even though the flooding and sinkhole suddenly occurred, there must have been small leaks or slight settlement
Due to the large excavation area and the presence of other development projects nearby – including the highspeed
railway and Airport Express – the authority should hire land surveyors to monitor the site.
Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan Suk-chong said this was not the first time this site had problems, as
construction works had been suspended due to water ingress from the pipe-pile walls last year.
She said the incident shows that construction there is not safe and urged the government to survey the area
again before continuing to build the remaining basement. The theater is scheduled to be completed in 2023.