Super-bridge project given green light
A multibillion-dollar bridge will spearhead a joint infrastructure drive by the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong in southern China.
Priorities will be given to the planned Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) highway linking the mainland and Hong Kong and sea ports in the pan-Pearl River Delta region.
Minister of National Development and Reform Commission Ma Kai, said planning for the project was given the green light during recent face-to-face talks with Tung Chee-hwa, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government.
"We are going to make a big breakthrough in infrastructure co-operation between Hong Kong and the mainland," Ma told yesterday's press conference during the ongoing National People's Congress (NPC) session.
Sarah Liao, secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works of the Hong Kong (SAR), told China Daily the private sector is allowed to play a primary role in constructing the bridge proposal, which will cost about 31.5 billion yuan (US$3.8 billion).
He said Hong Kong, Macao and Guangdong had entered into a consensus allowing the private sector to fund the giant project.
"There is a general consensus amongst the three parties that it will be funded by the private sector," said Liao.
At yesterday's press conference, Ma said the feasibility report of the HZMB has already been finished but he didn't reveal when the project start.
Ma's commission and the Hong Kong SAR Government started a feasibility study in 2002 and found the bridge will alter the present passive condition of the transport linkage between Hong Kong and the Pearl River West, which relies mainly on water transport.
It will shorten the distance from Hong Kong to Macao and Zhuhai to 30 kilometres, and reduce the journey time to well within half an hour. The current distance from Hong Kong to Macao and Zhuhai is about 60 kilometres.
"The bridge will promote the socio-economic development of Pearl River West, promote the development of regional tourism industries and perfect the regional transport network," said Liao.
He said advance planning work of the bridge is progressing well.
The HZMB Advance Work Co-ordination Group set up by HKSAR, Guangdong and Macao has commissioned an engineering and financial feasibility study in early 2004. The outcome of the study is now being examined by the three parties of the Co-ordination Group.
In January, three cross-border infrastructure projects, the Huanggang-Lok Ma Chau bridge, the bridge at Shatoujiao, and the renovation at the footbridge of Luohu, were started.
The latest joint project between the mainland and Hong Kong follows over areas of co-operation including logistics, economy and trade, tourism, culture, environmental protection, public health, and science and technology.
Macro control of economic development on the mainland is a long-term task for the central Government, Ma said.
"We will continue our efforts because many local governments have been on an investment spree, which is likely to cause economic overheating," he added.