Hong Kong’s mega bridge to Macau, or the biggest white elephant known to man?
- Until the flow of container and goods vehicles dramatically increases, doubts will remain about the bridge being a worthwhile investment for Hong Kong taxpayers
On January 2, I made a round trip to Macau, leaving at about 9.15am and returning at 4.30pm. I took a bus both ways, using the new bridge and tunnel connecting Hong Kong with Macau and Zhuhai. As – I imagine – with all first time travellers who have used this route rather than the ferry, I was in awe of the engineering feat that enables us to go from one area of land to another over and under such an expanse of sea.
The main purpose of this letter, though, is not to laud the achievement, impressive as it is, but rather to ask why it was done in the first place, costing Hong Kong at least HK$120 billion. I believe the building of the bridge was and remains controversial. In the past I couldn’t understand why, thinking that any aid to the infrastructure of this region must have a positive outcome. However, Wednesday’s trip was a real eye-opener. During the two-way trip, over a period of 70 minutes, I saw a total of three private vehicles and one container lorry. All the rest of the meagre traffic were buses carrying people who could have used the ferry, albeit more expensively.
Regarding the bus passenger traffic, in the port area in Macau – where the facilities are clearly designed for thousands – the numbers could be counted in tens. Am I missing something? Was it just a quiet day or is this bridge one of the biggest and most expensive white elephants constructed in the history of mankind? Until the flow of container and goods vehicles dramatically increases, I will subscribe to the latter view.
If this is wrong, could someone explain how, after a slow start, the traffic is forecast to increase to a level that makes the bridge a worthwhile investment? Given that another huge project is in the pipeline, the people of Hong Kong need to know that their hard-earned money is not being wasted.
Chris Stubbs, Discovery Bay