There were massive crowds at Tai Wai MTR station in the New Territories. Photo: Facebook/Ming Leung
There were massive crowds at Tai Wai MTR station in the New Territories. Photo: Facebook/Ming Leung

Hong Kong’s government has been heavily criticized for not suspending work on Monday in the aftermath of typhoon Mangkhut, with commuters struggling to get to their offices.

The city’s four million workforce were stuck on train stations for hours on Monday, while bus services in the city were almost non-existent. A disruption to the East Rail Line and fallen trees and other obstructions closed many roads and caused potential danger, Oriental Daily reported.

The government announced that classes were suspended in all schools, but did not extend the closure to the business sector.

People still had to work, despite almost no bus services due to bad road conditions, no trains were running between Tai Po Market and Sheung Shui in the New Territories and tens of thousands were crammed onto stations like Kowloon Tong and Tai Wai for hours waiting for trains to get to work.

With many roads blocked by fallen trees and debris, people either walked to train stations in the Northern District or tried to call a taxi or Uber, but few were available.

One commuter could not get a taxi despite offering to pay HK$1,400 (US$178) for a ride from Sheung Shui in the New Territories to Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island – the normal fare would be about HK$250.

Uber and mini-buses also raised prices, Apple Daily reported.

On Sunday night, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor urged local companies to show understanding and adopt a flexible approach to staff who had difficulties getting to work, advising employers not to deduct their wages they arived late.

Her Facebook page had 22,000 “angry” reactions and 8,400 comments, largely blaming her for not announcing a work suspension due to poor transportation and conditions.

Many said the government should have been aware of the rail and road conditions and the affect that would have on the millions in the workforce.

They also slammed Lam, saying only making money was the priority to keep businesses and the stock market running, but the safety of Hongkongers’ was not considered.

Kennedy Road on Hong Kong Island. Photo: Facebook/Pluto Mok