Sunday, 23 November 2014

New Traffic Observations

Strange seeing cars here on a Sunday; helpers on sidewalks
Every Sunday Chater Road in Central is closed off for domestic helpers to have another spot to hang out during their precious day of rest.

However, this afternoon was strange to see there were no police barricades to block the street and to see cars going through the area. Buses continued on their Sunday routes, which meant avoiding Chater Road, but private vehicles and trucks continued there, which meant the domestic helpers had to set up their quarters on the sidewalks.

From what I remember this street was still blocked for domestic helpers while the Occupy movement was happening. Or did the authorities think they needed to road open to deal with Sunday traffic, which is quite light?

More helpers occupying the sidewalks (left)
Meanwhile the passageway at HSBC headquarters on Queens Road Central has always been a favourite spot for these hired help as well, but in the last two months, the bank has taken up the space by erecting a display that won't be unveiled until March of next year.

It seems the bank was worried about Occupy protesters taking over the space after several people literally camped out in the area two years ago during the Occupy movement in New York.

And so the domestic helpers have no choice but to hang out outside the bank. Admittedly it's now quieter going through the area, but the massive display has made it difficult to move freely in the passage area.

In addition, I saw several men in suits with earpieces, patrolling areas in front of IFC mall, along the footbridge next to Standard Chartered Bank, and the footbridges from Chater house and World Wide House to Exchange Square. They were not only there to prevent domestic helpers from lingering in the area, but also hawkers trying to strike a deal reselling the iPhone 6 outside IFC.

These new measures are a clear attempt to get rid of what some people think are eye sores, but also interesting to note it was several buildings doing this at the same time.

Is this a concerted effort to push domestic helpers out of Central, or at least the main shopping areas so that customers will be able to move around more freely and with less guilt?

Again it's the government that hasn't done much to offer domestic helpers a space of their own for some relaxation on their only day off. Some go to churches and parks, but they can't hold the some 320,000 (as of 2013) helpers in the city.

We will keep an eye on the situation next weekend to see if the patrols are still in force...

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