Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge ‘scientifically proven to be safe’, Carrie Lam says
Hong Kong leader moves to allay fears over bridge safety days after protective blocks appear to drift away from artificial island, leaving sea tunnel threatened
Hong Kong’s leader moved to allay public fears on Friday over the structural integrity of the “world-class” bridge linking the city to Macau and Zhuhai, calling its stability “scientifically proven”, even as her own transport chief said workers needed more time to investigate the matter.
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Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s comments came in response to photographs taken by the Post on Wednesday, which showed that wave-absorbing concrete blocks, known as dolosse, had drifted away from one of the artificial islands they were designed to protect.
The apparent movement raised concerns that the undersea tunnel connected to the island could collapse because of insufficient protection.
However, those concerns were dismissed by mainland China’s Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB) Authority, which is managing the multibillion-dollar project. A senior engineer at the Highways Department is deputy chairman at the authority.
Speaking at a public event on Friday, Lam said the construction quality of the bridge was not in doubt.
“The stability of construction works is a scientifically proven thing, so I hope the press and commentators can read the experts’ explanations before making comments,” Lam said, without elaborating on what the proof might be.
“I hope that just because some individuals have taken photos, or made some comments, that everyone will not jump in and doubt the project’s design,” Lam added.
However, Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan said the government was aware of the public’s concern over the project’s safety and asked for more time for officials to gather “objective facts”, before offering the public an explanation.
Highways Department representatives will head to Zhuhai, in mainland China, on Sunday to speak to the bridge authority.
“If necessary, we do not rule out going to the artificial island to follow up,” a department spokesman said on Friday.
Lam refused to say on Friday if the artificial island had varied from its original design, only that many experts had praised the project as “world class”.
The chief executive added that it was the government’s “top priority” to ensure that the three cross-border infrastructure projects, the closest of which lies just 150 metres from Hong Kong’s border, were safe for use.
Having already inspected both the Express Rail Link and bridge projects, Lam said she would soon visit the Liantang-Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point, which links the northeastern New Territories with Shenzhen.
In its statement on Wednesday the mainland authority said the dolosse were meant to be placed in a “random” manner, so as to reduce any pressure put on the undersea tunnel.
While official concept art posted online by the authority shows the island having a smooth edge, photos taken recently show jagged edges.
According to a document dated April 2011, construction of the artificial islands and tunnel for the bridge project was headed by China Communications Construction Company Limited, a mainland private company.
One of the company’s subsidiaries, called CCCC The Three Harbour Engineering Company Limited, was responsible for the construction of the eastern artificial island, which began that year.
Additional reporting by Alvin Lum