Cross-border accord eases flow of freight trucks
Cross-border freight operators will enjoy greater flexibility and have to endure less red tape under an agreement reached between Hong Kong and the Guangdong authorities yesterday.
Guangdong has agreed to relax the existing requirement of 'one-truck-one-driver', which prevents trucks from being used for two shifts a day, with effect from yesterday.
Under the new arrangement, every cross-border freight vehicle may have one driver and one back-up driver. The back-up drivers engaged by the same Hong Kong-Guangdong joint venture transport enterprise may drive any cross-border freight vehicle operated by that company.
Speaking after the meeting of the Hong Kong-Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference yesterday, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said the new measure would increase operational flexibility for the trade.
A consultancy report released by McKinsey & Co said the eradication of the rule, which forces vehicles to sit idle when the registered driver is ill or on holiday, would slash 16 per cent off the trucking-related cost differential between Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
Stanley Chiang Chi-wai, chairman of the Lok Ma Chau China-Hong Kong Freight Association said it would allow for safer driving as drivers could get more rest.
The two governments also agreed that the duration of the cross-border joint venture contracts for freight vehicles would be extended from three years to six years.
On the co-ordination of cross-border infrastructure projects, the two administrations failed to give a date on when the construction of a bridge linking Hong Kong with Zhuhai and Macau would start.
Mr Tsang said a feasibility study on the cross-delta bridge had been largely completed. The governments of Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macau would strive to submit the project for approval by the State Council as soon as possible.
Some Guangdong experts said the plan had hit a hurdle, with the Macau and Guangdong governments showing reluctance to invest in the project.
'We haven't reached the stage of funding yet, but as far as we are concerned there is enormous private-sector interest in the construction of this bridge and that I am sure would feature prominently at the end of the day,' Mr Tsang said.