Described by The Guardian newspaper as one of the “seven wonders of the modern world near completion”, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) is a project that is being taken very seriously by the central government.
When President Xi Jinping came to Hong Kong last year, he made it a point to visit Chek Lap Kok to get a progress report on the construction of the Hong Kong Link Road, which will connect the bridge to the city’s boundary crossing facilities.
Also, the Hong Kong government couldn’t have been more attentive to the HZMB project, and was pretty confident, at one point, that the bridge could be officially opened to traffic within this month.
However, such confidence appears to have quickly vaporized. According to government sources, the administration now estimates that it is unlikely for the bridge to be open to traffic before September.
In other words, contrary to previous forecasts, the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link is likely to come into service ahead of the bridge.
As to the reason for the postponement, government sources said it has absolutely nothing to do with the rainwater leakage found inside the passenger clearance building built on an artificial island at the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities back in April.
The sources insisted that the delay is caused by the fact that the arrangements for such aspects as customs and immigration clearance along the bridge are more complicated than expected, an issue that would take more time to resolve.
Besides, the sources said since the HZMB project involves the governments of Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau, the resolution of any matter concerning the bridge would require tripartite coordination and consensus among the three cities. And that includes its official date of opening as well.
Lo Wai-kwok, chairman of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong and a member of the Legislative Council’s transport panel, admitted to us that he doesn’t know when the HZMB will be officially opened.
But Lo added that there is no need for the HZMB to be hurried into service, noting that it requires the coordination and cooperation of the three governments involved.
That said, he believes Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau should get themselves fully prepared to ensure the smooth operation of the HZMB in the coming days.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 1
Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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