Of the five landfills under construction – Zone A, between the new artificial island, the maritime terminal and the reservoir and Areia Preta – is the largest.
Still, at just 1.38 square kilometres, it is far from being the largest landfill ever built in Macau – that accolade belongs to the 5.2 km2 of COTAI.
The so-called Zone A, however, does carry many of the expectations of Macau residents, particularly those in need of a new home.
Although the government is not committed to a schedule of delivering the promised housing it is understood that it will usher in a new dormitory for Macau, with the construction of 32,000 homes – 28,000 public and 4,000 private, according to the last official data.
People want homes – a fact they have clearly communicated to the authorities via the three rounds of Public Consultation for the Evaluation of the New Landfills Director Plan – but the government has avoided moving forward with deadlines that are probably not going to be met.
The very construction of this landfill has been marked by successive delays, due, primarily, to lack of sand diverted to the landfills of the new superbridge.
In the memory of many will be the letter that the Macau People’s Power Association delivered to the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress when Zhang Dejiang visited Macau last year. In this missive the Association informed Zhang, among other things, that after three years the works on the landfills had not been completed nor had the construction of the dwellings in question begun.
Finally, following a delay of 19 months, the reclamation project for Zone A was completed by the end last year, after the Chief Executive himself had chivvied it along.
But more to the point, when will Zone A be habitable?
Last year, Chui Sai On said that different housing needs would be met in the coming five to ten years, but it must be taken into account that there is still no municipal director plan (2019?) and that it is not enough to build houses if there are no social facilities to match. People will require a host of services, starting with a health centre – which is planned – in order not to overburden the Peninsula. Similarly, schools and a municipal market are needed.
Given the recent statements of Raimundo do Rosário, the government is wary of repeating the error of Seac Pai Van: when the first houses were ready, the residents did not have any type of support.
100,000 can come to live on this little unnamed island. Worse: the traffic to and from the bridge connecting Zhuhai to Hong Kong passes through there.
It is estimated that in 15 years approximately 100,000 people can live in that place, which will lead to a very high population density. The Director of Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau, Li Canfeng, says 70,000 in a square kilometre is a “viable” solution.
Hence, there are plans to build only 7,000 of the 32,000 houses in the first phase. The second phase of public housing in Zone A is not slated to begin before 2020, but the forecast is optimistic as the first phase is expected to move forward next year – a kind of legacy of the Chief Executive, who finishes his term then.
In addition to many blocks for housing (social and economic) and associated services, Zone A will provide areas for different industries in tandem with tourism and cultural facilities ‘divided into four subzones: North, Central North, Central South and South zones. The first three mainly comprise mixed development of public housing, public facilities and commercial establishments. For the South zone, it is planned to develop a quality waterfront area, together with streets and alleys with special features and landmarks of public buildings.
“Further consideration will be made to increasing New Urban Zone Area A’s external connectivity, and a feasibility study on connecting Area A to the central district of Macau Peninsula will be conducted. Compilation of the district planning for New Urban Zone Area A is targeted for completion in 2018,” according to the Five-Year Development Plan of the Macau Special Administrative Region (2016-2020).
Already at the end of last month it was known that the Transportation Infrastructure Office is planning two Light Metro routes that will pass through Zone A and that one route will be underground.
Being an island – the largest that Macau has ever built – Zone A will need an effective number of interconnections, starting with the fact that those who arrive via the HZMB must pass through it (with no alternative planned).
The solution will enable passage via the fourth connection or fourth bridge to the islands of Taipa and Coloane.
This fourth link can start at, or at least pass through, Zone A and link the main areas of Macau.
Likewise, there is an outline of the hypothesis that the future Light Rail Transit passes through the local area.