Work on bridge to Zhuhai expected to start next year

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 February, 2006, 12:00am

Guangdong wants construction of the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge to start next year.

But the actual date is pending the selection of checkpoint sites and the approval of environment assessments, among other issues.

'We are hoping to begin construction in 2007,' Guangdong Development and Reform Commission director-general Chen Shanru said. 'Once the checkpoint sites are decided on, it will take half a year to design the bridge and then we will call for bids.'

Mr Chen said it was up to the central government to decide where the immigration checkpoints were located.

He said the checkpoints and environmental concerns were just two of 25 problem areas that needed to be cleared before construction could start.

In its 11th five-year plan, the commission set the price tag for the bridge at 55 billion yuan - other estimates have gone as high as 60 billion yuan. But Mr Chen said the final figure would depend on whether the design called for the building of artificial islands and tunnels.

He said the Guangdong government was encouraging private investment in the bridge and may consider allowing investors to collect tolls for more than 20 years. Current practice allows tolls to be collected on bridge and highway projects for 15 to 20 years.

Hong Kong Container Transportation Employees General Union vice-chairman Tse Long said on Tuesday the Guangdong government was not pushing the project forward. He proposed setting up a joint Hong Kong-Guangdong commission to iron out outstanding issues.