MB November Special Report | The ghost bridge
In certain periods and in certain areas of Macau, notably those providing access to the HZMB, traffic problems have increased from day one of the construction of the bridge. These problems could have been avoided and aren’t bigger just because, after all, there are only a few cars driving on it.
In 2015, the Macau Association of Economic Sciences published a study about HZMB’s impacts, highlighting the overloaded traffic in the northern district.
Specifically, the report pointed out that the Rotunda da Amizade (Friendship Roundabout) area was the ‘common point of land traffic’ for the city’s existing seven passengers and cargoes border terminals, including the Border Gate, the Taipa Ferry Terminal and three planned terminals, including the HZMB.
“The traffic problem in the Rotunda da Amizade is something that the government should tackle”, stated the report.
Four years later, predictions were confirmed.
“In order to improve the traffic conditions of the Rotunda da Amizade, the Transport Bureau (DSAT) has proposed to build an overpass connecting Avenida do Nordeste and Novos Aterros Urbanos Zona A through the Rotunda da Amizade”, DSAT replied to Macau Business. “After listening to the opinions of relevant departments, including the Transport Advisory Committee, the Transport Bureau has completed the preparation of the construction plan according to the ‘straight line solution’ and is now working with the construction departments to jointly follow up on the work related to the subsequent tendering”.
It means that during its first year, the HZMB was not enough to solve the problems and it will still be a long time before we get a definitive solution.
About a year ago, DSAT announced that a study on traffic reorganization had been started in that area, but DSAT Director Lam Hin San also revealed that he was not satisfied with the result and that the company was invited to redo the work (the DSAT has set traffic lights at Rotunda da Amizade, but several residents have complained that vehicles only have a few seconds to pass from Zone A to the Pérola Oriental and Avenida Nordeste).
During the first session of the Legislative Assembly, after the bridge opened, several deputies complained about traffic jams in the Areia Preta Zone, when accessing to the HZMB. Congressman Ip Sio Kai even spoke of ‘chaos’. Chui Sai Peng, the Chief Executive’s cousin, conceded the opening of the bridge went smoothly, but the population has indeed been complaining about the traffic that ensued.
The central issue therefore is: since the Pérola Oriental / Rotunda da Amizade area is the only point of access to the Ponte da Amizade and the HZMB, it would inevitably increase vehicle traffic. It simply hasn’t increased because there are only a few cars passing on the bridge.
As it is necessary to go through the East Pearl to enter or leave the new bridge, “it can be seen that there was no efficient planning for the northeast-bound traffic”, said Mrs Chan Hong, for whom “there are always risks of serious traffic jams in this area”.
Invasion of real estate agents
Since the opening of the HZMB, it has become common to find real estate agents at the entrances and exits of the Zhuhai border post advertising and trying to persuade people to buy houses, especially second-hand properties.
The situation prompted several complaints and forced police intervention across the border.
However, according to Macau Daily (Ou Mun Iat Pou), despite warnings from police and border officials, real estate agents continue to focus on the site, surrounding and even pursuing those crossing the border, engaging in what Zhuhai officials consider to be a disturbance to the order of public space.
Since the bridge opened, some 200 people have been given administrative warnings and 400 have been scolded in relation to this problem.
Member Chan Hong presented an oral question to the Government at the end of last year regarding a problem which she was the first to identify: due to the completion of Zone A and the artificial island of HZMB, the pace of the water cycle off the Areia Preta coast has slowed down, which caused the waters to stagnate.
According to Mrs. Chan, there is a problem of “bad smell” in that area and, although authorities have taken measures to intercept wastewater, “the effects have not been significant, but the problems of bad smell in the environment have been disturbing the lives of residents throughout the years”.
As this was an oral question, Chan Hong’s initiative was not answered, but Macau Business contacted the Macau Environmental Protection Bureau (DSAP). “Pollution detected in the Areia Preta coastal waters is a concern”, says the Bureau, pointing to the main cause: “the quality of the water affected by the wrong sewage connection and wastewater runoff illegally discharged from the stormwater outlets in this zone”.
“DSPA is negotiating with the relevant services involved to properly dispose of sludge accumulated in that area and to study the use of an ecological recovery method to further optimize its environment”, adds the Bureau to Macau Business.