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LCQ3: Frontier Closed Area and cross-boundary school coach services

     Following is a reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S K Lee, to a question by the Hon Lau Kong-wah in the Legislative Council today (June 22):


     The Government announced in 2008 that the coverage of the Frontier Closed Area would be reduced from its original 2 800 hectares to 400 hectares. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the current progress of the aforesaid plan, and which boundary areas will be opened up at the earliest;

(b) whether the Government will enhance the associated transport facilities (including public transport such as buses, etc. and providing an additional option of self-drive tour) so as to facilitate the development of the opened up areas; and whether it will allow various modes of public transport to access the opened up areas in the vicinity of Lo Wu Station so that the local community and transit passengers will have more commuting options; and

(c) given the increasing demand for transport from cross-boundary students, whether the Government will consider increasing the quotas for cross-boundary vehicles after opening up the boundary areas so as to allow local schools to have more point-to-point connections with the Shenzhen side, and facilitate cross-boundary students to commute between the two areas to attend school?



     The consolidated reply of the Security Bureau and the Transport and Housing Bureau to the question is as follows:

(a) Following a review of the coverage of the Frontier Closed Area (FCA) in 2006, the Administration announced in January 2008 that the coverage of the FCA would be substantially reduced from about 2 800 hectares to about 400 hectares. In order to implement the reduced coverage of the FCA while maintaining the integrity of the boundary, we will put in place a boundary patrol road along the new FCA boundary and will undertake works to construct a primary boundary fence and a secondary boundary fence along the length of the boundary patrol road, thereby ensuring that the boundary patrol road and primary boundary fence would be protected from deliberate or other interference.

     The entire construction project is divided into four sections (see Annex). The implementation programme for the construction works concerned is set out below:
Section                     Implementation Period for
                            Construction Works
-------                     -------------------------
(a) Mai Po to Lok Ma Chau    1st quarter 2010 -
    Control Point            3rd quarter 2011

(b) Lok Ma Chau Control      1st quarter 2010 -
    Point to Ng Tung River   4th quarter 2012

(c) Ng Tung River to         1st quarter 2012 -
    Lin Ma Hang              1st quarter 2015

(d) Lin Ma Hang to           4th quarter 2009 -
    Sha Tau Kok              3rd quarter 2011

     The current coverage of the FCA is specified in the Frontier Closed Area Order pursuant to section 36(1) of the Public Order Ordinance (Cap. 245). Following the completion of the above-mentioned construction works, we will amend the Frontier Closed Area Order to stipulate the commencement of the new statutory FCA boundary in phases so that the FCA can be reduced formally. We expect that the "Mai Po to Lok Ma Chau Control Point Section" and"Lin Ma Hang to Sha Tau Kok Section" will be the first sections to be released from the FCA in early 2012.

(b) According to the Study on Land Use Planning for the Closed Area undertaken by the Planning Department, the development concept for the Frontier Closed Areas (FCAs) is to promote the protection and conservation of environmental and cultural heritage resources while making provision for appropriate and sustainable land uses or development. It is estimated that the existing road networks can basically support the future transport demand. Upon opening up of the FCAs, motorists will have free access to road sections that are no longer designated as closed roads. The Administration will, according to the actual timetable for the opening up of the FCAs, improve the connecting roads to facilitate vehicular access to the opened up areas. Regarding public transport services, the Government will suitably enhance such services in the newly opened up areas to tie in with their development and planning arrangements by provision of the infrastructure and ancillary facilities (such as roads, footpaths and pick-up/drop-off points etc) as appropriate.

(c) To cater for the schooling needs of cross-boundary students (CBSs), the Administration has, after seeking agreement of the Guangdong authorities, issued special quotas since the 2008/09 school year to the operators concerned for the provision of cross-boundary school coach services. Each year, the Education Bureau (EDB) reviews the demand of the CBSs for such services and determines the number of special quotas for the coming school year with reference to the actual handling capacities of various boundary control points. The subject will be discussed with the Guangdong authorities through the Transport and Housing Bureau. The number of special quota increases every year in accordance with the needs of CBSs. Since the 2009/10 school year, 20 special north-bound trips have been introduced to meet the needs of CBSs participating in extra-curricular activities. In the 2010/11 school year, the number of special quotas available for application by the operators was increased to 65 and that of additional north-bound trips to 30. Given that the number of applications received was smaller than the quota limit, the Government approved all applications. Currently, 48 regular trips and nine additional special north-bound trips are in operation. Therefore, as far as special quotas are concerned, there is still plenty of room for providing additional school coach services for CBSs. The Administration will closely monitor the needs of CBS and will discuss with relevant Mainland authorities on the required number of special quotas to be issued.

     Following a review on the demand of CBSs for cross-boundary school coach services, EDB decided that the special quotas for the 2011/12 school year should be maintained at the same level as in last year, i.e. 65 special quotas and 30 additional north-bound trips, to meet the needs of CBSs in the new school year. All relevant bureaux and departments will keep a close watch on the demand of CBSs for cross-boundary school coach services and review the special quota arrangements in a timely manner.

Ends/Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Issued at HKT 14:45


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