Macau won't let in HK, mainland cars using delta bridge

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 September, 2008, 12:00am

If a long-discussed bridge across the Pearl River Delta is built, Macau will not let vehicles from Hong Kong or the mainland use its roads, a Macau transport official has said.

Wong Wan, head of Macau's Transport Bureau, told the Macau Closer magazine the city would keep out non-Macau vehicles using the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge-tunnel link, saying Macau's roads were too crowded already.

Drivers using the bridge to visit Macau would have to park before entering the city, Dr Wong said.

The link is expected to run 29.6km from Lantau to two artificial islands off Macau and Gongbei, Zhuhai , and cost 40 billion yuan (HK$45.6 billion). The price excludes the costs of border posts and connecting roads. If it is approved, work is likely to start in 2010 and finish in 2016. Its Macau terminus would be off the Areia Preta district in the northeast of the Macau Peninsula.

Leong Kam-chun, director of Macau's Concern Group on Public Utilities, said it would be wise to stop Hong Kong vehicles entering Macau.

'Roads in Macau are already overloaded without an influx of non-local vehicles,' he said.

The former Portuguese colony had 84,089 vehicles and 94,443 motorcycles by the end of June - but just 400.8km of public roads (measured by lane). In other words, Macau has 209 vehicles and 235 motorcycles for every kilometre of lane.

Mr Leong said the city could consider letting in some goods vehicles.

He suggested a car park, served by a light-rail station, be built at the bridge's landing point in Macau. The city is expected to build a HK$4 billion light-rail system this year.

Gaming-industry analyst Davis Fong Ka-chio said the economic impact of keeping out Hong Kong cars would be minimal. He said buses using the bridge would be able to bring in droves of tourists.

'I can't see any big impact [on Macau's economy] if private cars are kept out,' Dr Fong said. 'There won't be any problem if the mass-transit system goes smoothly.'

Vehicle operators need special licences to cross the Hong Kong-mainland boundary or the Macau-mainland boundary.

Sir Gordon Wu Ying-sheung, chairman of construction giant Hopewell Holdings, who has championed the project since the 1980s, said in February that Beijing was considering letting vehicles without cross-boundary licences use the bridge.

It is not clear whether mainland and Macau vehicles using the bridge will be allowed to enter Hong Kong.

Representatives of the Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong governments are discussing how many vehicles should be allowed to use the bridge.

About 38,000 Hong Kong vehicles and the same number from the mainland are licensed to cross the Hong Kong-mainland boundary.

Some Hong Kong lawmakers have said the quota system may limit use of the bridge and make it a white elephant.

A spokesman for Hong Kong's Transport and Housing Bureau said yesterday: 'We are looking at the feasibility of relaxing the current quota system for cross-boundary vehicles. No decision has been made.'

Heavy traffic

Macau's compact streets are already congested with traffic, and officials are keen to avoid the situation worsening with the opening of the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai Bridge

Number of vehicles in Macau: 84,089

Total length of Macau's roads: 400km

Number of vehicles per km of lane: 209