Bridge to Zhuhai will be costly for Hong Kong taxpayers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 December, 2015, 5:25pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 December, 2015, 5:25pm

If I were to go to Zhuhai or Macau, my best option is to take a ferry that will cost me HK$220 to Zhuhai or HK$165 to Macau.

It takes about 70 minutes from the Macau ferry terminal or the China terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui to reach either of these destinations. The ferry ride is comfortable and relaxing.

Compare this with taking a car on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge after it has opened. It is being built to facilitate shorter travelling times of under 30 minutes from Hong Kong International Airport to Zhuhai. I would first have to drive from Hong Kong Island to the artificial Island next to the airport before going on the bridge to Zhuhai. I assume the total travel time will be no less than 70 minutes and the cost after paying toll tax and cross-border permit fee will be much higher than the ferry.

What possible advantage is there for Hongkongers in building this HK$133 billion bridge when the advantages do not outweigh the cost? It puts an unnecessary financial burden on taxpayers as Hong Kong will foot more than HK$80 billion, plus an additional HK$5.4 billion cost overrun, while Macau and Zhuhai will pay the rest.

It is argued this will integrate Hong Kong with the Pearl River Delta and increase tourism and freight in this corridor.

However, some experts say the bridge will be a white elephant and will never pay for itself and the flow of traffic will be in one direction only, that is, from Hong Kong to Zhuhai. Besides rising property prices in Zhuhai and here it will affect the habitat of pink dolphins near the construction site. Overall, it is a loss to Hong Kong, with no appreciable benefit.

The express rail link to Guangzhou is another story of cost escalation and a burden on the city. Many people in China do not use high-speed trains as they are expensive ,and the same logic will apply to Hong Kong.

Realistically, I wonder how many Hong Kong citizens will drive to Zhuhai using this bridge when they have better and cheaper travel options.

Simon Datta, Pok Fu Lam