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Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge

48 high-definition surveillance cameras installed on Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge to guard against terrorism

Authorities concerned about 12km when drivers are technically inside city limits but not yet through border control points

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 October, 2018, 3:31pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 October, 2018, 10:23am

Hong Kong police have installed high-definition surveillance cameras to prevent terrorism on the city’s section of the mega bridge to Zhuhai and Macau, the Post has learned.

The force will store the footage for about 30 days while anti-terror officers patrol by car along what has been billed as the world’s longest sea crossing.

“This is a very exceptional case,” a government source said. “At other border control points, incoming passengers are surveilled once they step on Hong Kong soil. But the bridge is different.”

While visitors technically enter the city when they reach the Hong Kong section of the bridge, there are still 12km to go until they arrive at the border facilities, the source added.

We cannot leave them unmonitored along this 12km link of critical infrastructure
Government source

“We cannot leave them unmonitored along this 12km link of critical infrastructure. What if someone suddenly got out of their car in the middle of the link, blocked all traffic and started attacking people?”

The multibillion-dollar, 55km bridge, placing the three cities within an hour’s commute of one another, is expected to open as early as later this month.

The source said 48 surveillance cameras were being tested and had cost the force about HK$1.3 million (US$165,900). The deployment amounts to one camera every 200 to 300 metres on the Hong Kong section of the bridge.

At present, the Transport Department operates cameras on urban roads, but the source said those images were low definition and only used to monitor traffic situations.

“The Transport Department will also install their typical cameras along the bridge, but the images aren’t clear enough for us to monitor emergency situations,” the source said. “That’s why police needed to install better ones.”

He said the footage gathered by the force would be used to detect crime and that a specific protocol would be set up so the images could be used by other internal divisions.

The Security Bureau on Wednesday submitted a paper to Hong Kong’s legislature elaborating on its initiatives stated in city leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s policy address delivered that day.

It stated the government attached great importance to protecting critical infrastructure and that authorities would evaluate the threat of terrorist attacks on specific projects and set up necessary facilities.

The bureau said the force would incorporate “the use of facilities such as a recording function” along the bridge to “enhance its counterterrorism surveillance capabilities”.

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A police spokesman confirmed the installation, and said the consequences would be “unbearable” if a terror attack or serious crime were to transpire on the Hong Kong section, noting it was the only connection between the main bridge and the city’s border.

“To combat terrorism and manage security, adding surveillance cameras along the Hong Kong link is necessary to prevent crime and terror activities.”

Meanwhile, the source stressed there was no intelligence to suggest Hong Kong was being specifically targeted for attack, and the city’s terrorism threat level remained “moderate”.

Construction on the mega bridge started in 2011, and it was originally scheduled to open in 2016.

However, the project was plagued by problems such as workplace accidents, a corruption investigation, technical obstacles and budget overruns. Last month the three cities held a three-day drill to ensure the infrastructure was ready to launch. The Post understands that the central government is still finalising the bridge’s opening date.

Earlier the Post reported that a state leader was expected to officiate at the opening ceremony in Zhuhai because the central government considered it a national-level project.

The central government and Guangdong provincial authorities contributed 7 billion yuan (US$1 billion) to the bridge, accounting for 44.5 per cent of 15.73 billion yuan in total spent by the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau governments.