The islands of Taipa and Coloane no longer exist but what resulted from their joining, via the COTAI landfill, did not merit a new designation. Formally, there continues to be two islands with a landfill zone in the middle.
As Macau-based researchers Kou Seng Man and Tong Sao Lai explain: “In the case of Macau, any increase in its area involves a problem of interpretation of the rules and principles of the Basic Law,” contrary to what is happening on the Mainland where “the expansion, contraction or separation of administrative regions is not difficult to achieve because there exists the same kind of social system and legal regime.”
Because of this, and because one does not get into the Basic Law due to naming issues, everything stays as it is.
But even without recourse to the Basic Law, any matter related to the territory such as landfills must pass through Beijing.
One of the consequences is that projects take longer than they usually would.
Plans earmarked for the Chinese capital are pored over by various ministries, returning as a rule with changes. Macau incorporates the ‘suggestions’ and returns for final verification.
“In the case of Macau, any increase in its area involves a problem of interpretation of the rules and principles of the Basic Law”
At the very least, this may take a year – in the case of the five landfills currently under construction, the project was sent to Beijing in 2006 and two years later the views received from the Central Government were still being discussed.
In some cases, delays are inconsequential and are diluted in the deadlines for carrying out the work, but in others – as in the case of the enlargement works at Macau International Airport – the consequences are more evident.
A year ago, the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority (AACM) said that the project was “a little late”. A year later, there is still no date for the works to begin. “We have a master plan and we have already given it to the central government, which has told us that we have to make changes. We are now introducing these changes and we expect to get approval in the second quarter of next year , and then we will start because we really want to expand our airport,” said Public Works Secretary Raimundo do Rosario at the end of last year.
“The airport is in full use, we do not have enough space, especially on the apron [for] aircraft,” explained Simon Chan of AACM.
Macau wants to create a landfill in the triangle between the coast, the apron and the access plate to give the equipment with more and better conditions.
And the Macau International Airport Company Ltd. is expanding the North passenger terminal in order to increase its total area from 45,000 square metres to 59,000 square metres.
“When the North terminal expansion is finished, the airport will be able to handle 7.5 million passengers. We’re targeting 6.9 million or 7 million this year,” Mr. Chan recently told our sister publication MNA. “We’ve already reached the maximum design capacity to receive passengers in regard to the terminal. For the remaining [area] of the airport, there is still room to improve. The passenger increase will be gradual and hopefully by the time the level increases we will already have started the expansion.”