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30,000 km highways to create economic hub
By Tonny Chan (China Daily HK Edition)
Updated: 2004-06-02 08:44

A total of 30,000 kilometres of highways and main roads will crisscross the Pan-Pearl River Delta Region (PPRD), with both Hong Kong and Guangzhou at the centre, Minister for Transport Zhang Chunxian said Tuesday.

Guangdong Party Secretary Zhang Dejiang (centre), Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, along with other delegates, officiate at the opening ceremony for the Pan-Pearl River Delta Regional Co-operation and Development Forum which opened at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, June 1, 2004. [newsphoto]

At present, there are a total of 10,000 kilometres of highways and about 9,000 kilometres of main roads in the region.

Speaking at the PPRD co-operation and development forum, Zhang said the network was designed to cater to the various roles expected of the participating provinces and SARs in the economic circle.

Hong Kong will continue to be an important hub for communications, finance and logistics services while Guangdong will develop itself into a manufacturing powerhouse.

Zhang said the planned network included 22 alignments crisscrossing the nine provinces in all directions.

"It's worth noting that regional highways will be integrated to open up passages between provinces. This will constitute a network of fast transportation in the pan-delta region," Zhang told the audience.

"The plan is drawn up with both Guangzhou and Hong Kong at the centre from which the network radiates towards the hinterland and coastal areas," he said.

Within the Guangzhou-Hong Kong-Macao triangle, highways connecting Guangzhou to Hong Kong by way of Shenzhen and to Macao by way of Zhuhai will be enhanced. A circular route with Guangzhou at the centre will also be paved to link up Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Macao, Zhuhai, Zhongshan, Foshan and Dongguan.

He said the proposed bridge linking Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macao would enable Hong Kong to extend its services support to the western part of the economic circle better and help strengthen Hong Kong's position as an international shipping centre.

Zhang said the pan-delta road network would also be connected to important border gateways in Guangxi and Yunnan.

In the run-up to yesterday's forum, transportation has emerged to be a major concern for many industrialists who have production lines in Guangdong.

At a recent seminar on the PPRD, Federation of Hong Kong Industries Chairman Andrew Leung said transportation within the region must improve if the economic circle was to succeed.

Citing as an example, Leung said provincial restriction on vehicles from other provinces should be lifted.

He pointed out that for manufacturers in the triangle, a good transportation network amounted to larger base where they could do recruitment, buy materials and set up retail points. "It offers more flexibility and bigger room for development," he said.

Zhang said shipping channels would also be improved in the five to eight years to lower the freight cost. The aim is to increase the capacity of river freight by 30 per cent within the delta.

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