Four things waiting to be done

MB November Special Report | The ghost bridge

The logistics industry regrets not being able to take advantage of the reduced travel time the new bridge allows. But the delay in the direct shuttle to Hong Kong International Airport is harder to understand.

1.      Shuttle bus linking Macau and HK Int’l Airport

Almost a year later, “the governments of Hong Kong and Macau have agreed to add cross-border shuttle bus services between the HZMB Macau Port and the Hong Kong International Airport,” Transport Bureau (DSAT) answered to Macau Business. It is learned that the Airport Authority Hong Kong has started the relevant tendering.

According to the DSAT information, the Hong Kong SAR Government was (in May…) preparing the tender for the shuttle bus services. The route will be supervised by both the Macau and Hong Kong governments.

The point is that in October last year, even before the bridge opened to traffic, the DSAT director revealed that he had signed an agreement with the RAEHK Government to strengthen the cross-border connection with the neighbouring airport and that there should be “news in within one or two months.” By then it became known that there could be 40 trips a day, but after that nothing more was known.

Concerning the MICE sector, Legislator Davis Fong indicated that improved connectivity to the HKIA was the most important element to improve the local MICE market: “Now we don’t have the direct access from the Hong Kong [checkpoint] island to HKIA; however, it is under construction so we hope in two years’ time this direct access can be finished. This will boost convention visitors, who mainly hesitate to come to Macau because of traffic arrangements. If they fly to Hong Kong, they can take a bus coach directly to the door of the hotel. I think it’s amazing.”

According to Bernstein research, “once the full connectivity from HKIA to Macau is implemented, with more private vehicles and the ability to by-pass HK immigration – twice – the HKZMB may lead to greater inbound visitation by premium customers who can better utilize the HKIA.”

2.      Logistics

After the bridge went into operation, logistics development between Macau, Mainland China and Hong Kong was not boosted. According to government information, land has already been set aside for the construction of a logistics center at the border post of the artificial island, but DSSOPT is still defining its plans for urban conditions, and there is not even a timetable. With no Logistics Center, the logistics sector expects the government to support and discuss commercial exploration strategies to accelerate the development of the sector.

Following the entrance of the bridge, the distance between the west coast of the delta and the port of Hong Kong was shortened by more than 40 per cent, which translates into a 30 per cent reduction in transport costs and time – advantages that are not being taken advantage of.

Last information from DSAT: “Regarding cross-border trucks, the tendering for the design and construction based on the logistics facilities of the HZMB Macau Port has not yet started. The governments of Hong Kong and Macau are currently having detailed consultations on the operational arrangements for the interim transit of cross-border trucks in Hong Kong and Macau. It is hoped that consensus will be reached as soon as possible. By then, the result will be announced to the public.”

3.      Parking in Hong Kong

Macau has been requesting the construction of an area in the neighboring region for Macau vehicles, which are not allowed to enter Hong Kong, where drivers can reverse, stop and pick up passengers. Macau car parking is still requested at HKSAR, but these claims have been unsuccessful. It should be noted that, on the contrary, conditions are already available for Hong Kong drivers to enter Macau.

4.      Closed stores

In the Macau border post building, there are commercial stores but they are closed, which has generated a lot of misunderstanding, because in Zhuhai and Hong Kong there are restaurants, convenience stores and souvenirs. On the Macau side, there are only beverage vending machines.

The authorities of Macau have not yet been able to explain why no one seems interested in opening businesses in that space – much more since half a million visitors / tourists pass through the facility every month.

Links to Shenzhen and Tuen Mun

The Shenzhen-Zhongshan Link is the next mega infrastructure project in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area after the HZMB.

The 24-kilometre Shenzhen-Zhongshan Link, with the works completely beginning in 2018 and slated for completion in 2024, comprises two bridges, an undersea tunnel and artificial islands.

The RMB44.69 billion (US$6.28 billion) project could reduce the land transportation time between the two mainland Chinese cities from two hours to 20-30 minutes, with daily traffic expected to reach 100,000 vehicles after completion, Chinese officials said.

The Shenzhen-Zhongshan Link is located about 38 kilometres north of the HZMB.

Four years before it must be completed, the Northern Connection of the Tuen Mun–Chek Lap Kok Link, a road project, is under construction in the New Territories.

The Southern Connection mainline opened on October 2018 to tie in with HZMB’s commissioning, but the Northern Connection, comprising an undersea tunnel crossing the Urmston Road, linking Tuen Mun to the “Boundary Crossing Facilities”, the artificial peninsula connected to Chek Lap Kok Airport, is expected to be fully commissioned by 2020.