LCQ3: Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge

     Following is a question by the Hon Kenneth Lau and a reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Mr Frank Chan Fan, in the Legislative Council today (January 17):
​     Last month, the Secretary for Transport and Housing said that the main bridge of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) had achieved readiness for commissioning, but the commissioning date of HZMB was pending, which was to be decided by the Central Authorities after full preparation had been made by the authorities of the three places of Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macao.  Regarding the commissioning arrangements for HZMB, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the authorities' latest projections on the daily vehicular and traveller flows during the initial stage of commissioning of HZMB, and how such figures compare with those projected in 2008; whether it has proposed to the Mainland authorities the implementation of concessionary measures during the initial stage of commissioning so as to boost the utilisation rate of HZMB; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) whether 24-hour clearance will be implemented during the initial stage of commissioning of HZMB; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) as it has been reported that the Macao and Mainland authorities have agreed to adopt a "joint boundary control system" which is a new mode of clearance whereby travellers commuting between Zhuhai and Macao via HZMB may complete the clearance procedures in one go by simply presenting the travel documents required by the place that they are entering when undergoing the departure procedure, whether the authorities will adopt a similar mode of clearance for travellers commuting to and from Hong Kong via HZMB; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
​     The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) is an unprecedented cross-boundary transport infrastructure connecting Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao. With HZMB, travelling time between Hong Kong and western Pearl River Delta (PRD) will be reduced significantly and thereby bringing western PRD into the area that is accessible from Hong Kong within 3 hours' drive. For example, the travelling time between Zhuhai and Kwai Chung Container Terminal will be reduced from currently 3.5 hours or so to about 75 minutes. The travelling time between Zhuhai and Hong Kong International Airport will also be reduced from currently four hours or so to about 45 minutes. With HZMB, cargo originated from western PRD, western Guangdong, and Guangxi can make better use of the airport and container port of Hong Kong, thereby strengthening Hong Kong's position as a trading and logistics hub. The HZMB will boost the economic development and enhance connection within the cities of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area (Bay Area), will facilitate personnel exchange, and will bring strategic significance for the development of both Hong Kong and the Bay Area. 
​     The entire HZMB project consists of two parts: the HZMB Main Bridge (comprising both bridge and tunnel sections) built in Mainland waters by the HZMB Authority, and the link roads and boundary crossing facilities under the respective responsibility of the three governments.
​     For the Hong Kong projects (i.e. the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities (HKBCF) and the Hong Kong Link Road (HKLR)), reclamation for the HKBCF has been completed. The structural works of the Passenger Clearance Building in the HKBCF were completed in 2017. All ancillary buildings in the vehicle clearance plaza have been topped out. The remaining works being carried out mainly include indoor fitting-out works, building services works, electric and mechanical works and road surfacing works, etc. Installation of clearance facilities are also in progress.
​     Further to the complete connection of the viaduct, tunnel and at-grade roads of the HKLR in May 2017, road surfacing works and road facilities will be completed within this week. The remaining works in progress mainly include the final installation and testing of the Traffic Control and Surveillance System, as well as the final works of some ancillary facilities.
​     As regards the commissioning date of the HZMB, the governments of the three places are striving to improve the clearance conditions of the boundary crossing facilities (BCFs). The commissioning date of the HZMB will be reported to the Central authorities and will be announced once confirmed.

​     My consolidated reply to the various parts of the Hon Kenneth Lau's question is as follows:
(1) Given that the HZMB is about to be commissioned, we think that there is not much material meaning in making projections on traffic and passenger flow for the initial stage of commissioning. The HKBCF of the HZMB, situated at Lantau Island, together with the adjacent Hong Kong International Airport, will become the geographical converging point of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao. Coupled with the development of the Bay Area, we anticipate that the HZMB will play an important function of fostering the smooth flow of people, capital, technology, and so forth within western PRD and the Bay Area. The Government will keep in view the utilisation rate of the HZMB and will look into suitable measures in conjunction with the governments of the other two places as well as the HZMB Authority so as to bring the benefits of HZMB into full play.
​     As regards mid- to long-term projections on the vehicular flows of the HZMB, the consultant engaged by the three sides has estimated that the daily traffic volume of the HZMB would be around 29 100 and 42 000 vehicles in 2030 and 2037 respectively, while the daily passenger flow would be 126 000 and 175 000 passenger trips respectively. However, I would like to point out that since the afore-mentioned mid- to long-term projections focus on a time that is 10 to 20 years from now, the estimations above may vary as a result of external factors such as the respective developments of the three places and new planning initiatives.
​     The governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao have been actively studying and negotiating a set of cross-boundary transport arrangements which can meet the needs of local residents, travellers and the trades in the three places so as to increase the utilisation rate of the HZMB, ensure convenient access, and maximise the economic and transport benefits of the HZMB. To facilitate access by travellers with different transport needs, the three governments have agreed to arrange various modes of cross-boundary transport, including cross-boundary shuttle buses, cross-boundary coaches, cross-boundary hire cars, cross-boundary goods vehicles and cross-boundary private cars. We have also simplified the requirements for application for cross-boundary vehicle licences with a view to encouraging the freight transport industry and travellers to use the HZMB. For example, existing cross-boundary goods vehicles travelling between Guangdong and Hong Kong will be allowed to use the HZMB automatically. As regards cross-boundary private cars which are permitted to travel between Guangdong and Hong Kong through designated BCFs, they will be allowed to use the HZMB on a trial basis automatically within the first two years upon commissioning. In addition, the Guangdong and Hong Kong governments announced in December last year that the quota for Hong Kong cross-boundary private cars using the HZMB would be increased from 3 000 to 10 000 in response to the public demand.
(2) In 2010, Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao concluded an agreement on the construction, operation, maintenance and management of the HZMB (the agreement). According to the agreement, the Main Bridge and other parts of the HZMB should in-principle be open for access on a 24-hour basis, and the three governments should regularly discuss the best date for implementing 24-hour clearance in the light of actual circumstances. The governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao have already reached a consensus that 24-hour clearance should be implemented from the date of the commissioning of the BCFs of the HZMB. The three sides are currently working on the related supporting arrangement accordingly.
(3) According to the agreement, the BCFs of the HZMB will adopt the "separate locations" mode of clearance arrangement. The governments of the three sides are responsible for setting up their own BCFs, which are located within their respective boundaries. In other words, upon commissioning, the HKBCF will not adopt a "co-location" mode of clearance arrangement.
​     Thank you, President.

Ends/Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Issued at HKT 15:03