17 July 2019
Beijing's liaison office said an opening ceremony for the 55-kilometer bridge will be held in Zhuhai, Guangdong, on Oct. 23. Photo: CNSA
Beijing's liaison office said an opening ceremony for the 55-kilometer bridge will be held in Zhuhai, Guangdong, on Oct. 23. Photo: CNSA

Opening ceremony for HK-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge to be held on Oct 23

After almost nine years of construction, the longest sea-crossing bridge in the world will be inaugurated next week, although it is not clear when it will open for actual use.

In a press invitation sent to media outlets on Wednesday, Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong said an opening ceremony for the 55-kilometer Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) will be held in Zhuhai, Guangdong, on Oct. 23, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

However, it did not mention who will be the guests of honor, nor did it say if vehicles can start using the mega bridge right after the ceremony.

Sources said President Xi Jinping and Vice Premier Han Zheng, who is in charge of Hong Kong and Macau affairs, are likely to attend the ceremony, although they are not expected to enter Hong Kong afterwards.

The invitation came after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor told reporters earlier on Wednesday that she had not been notified yet of the opening date for the bridge.

In response to media inquiries, the Transport and Housing Bureau only said it was contacting related authorities to obtain further information.

Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan Suk-chong criticized the timing of the HZMB opening, saying there are some issues that remain to be resolved.

The government still needs to apply for more funding from the Legislative Council, Chan said, adding that no clarifications have been given so far about the water leakage at the passenger clearance building and media reports that some of the concrete slabs that were used to fortify the artificial island built for the HZMB had been washed away.

Meanwhile, a cross-boundary coach trade association said the abrupt announcement of the opening ceremony for the mega bridge was somewhat surprising and it was not clear if that meant operations would start on the same day.

Freeman Cheung Kim-ping, secretary general of the Hongkong Guangdong Boundary Crossing Bus Association, said its members need a one-month advance notice so that they can be ready to offer normal services as some of them have still not received the passes required to enter the mainland.

Members of the Legislative Council’s Panel on Transport are scheduled to inspect the Hong Kong section of the HZMB this Saturday, including the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities and the link roads.

Lawmaker Ben Chan Han-pan from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, who chairs the panel, said he is worried that traffic in and out of the Hong Kong International Airport and Tung Chung will be affected once the mega bridge is open, adding that he has urged the Transport and Housing Bureau to increase parking spaces in the vicinity to meet the demand.

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