Mega bridge will enhance Hong Kong’s role as ‘premier logistics hub’

Out-Law News | 05 Sep 2014 | 11:27 am | 2 min. read

Hong Kong’s role as a “premier logistics hub and springboard to mainland China” will be boosted by the construction of a bridge linking the territory to western China, a member of Hong Kong’s legislature has said.

Transport and housing secretary Anthony Cheung said the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB) will offer fast and efficient access to the mainland’s Pearl River Delta (PRD) region “which is seeing a growing economic boom”.

Cheung said: “This 29.6 kilometre-long mega bridge, when completed in a couple of years' time, will enhance Hong Kong's transport links... for example, the travelling time between Zhuhai and Hong Kong International Airport in future will be cut by more than 80%.”

The HZMB consists of a main bridge in mainland waters together with border crossing facilities and link roads. The project comprises a dual three-lane carriageway in the form of a bridge-cum-tunnel structure.

The total capital investment in the project is around 16 billion renminbi (CNY) ($2.6bn), which the HZMB Authority said represented about 45.3% of the estimated total cost. The Authority said the mainland, and the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macao will contribute CNY 7bn ($1.1bn), CNY 6.75bn ($980 million) and CNY 1.98bn ($326m) respectively. The Authority said it will finance the remainder through syndicated loans.

Hong Kong’s government announced the HZMB project in the aftermath of the 1997 Asian financial crisis “to revitalise the economy and seek new points for economic growth”. The HZMB Authority said the overall length of the crossing, including the bridge, is about 35.6km, of which 6km is in Hong Kong territory and 29.6km is in the territory of Guangdong province, at the southernmost tip of mainland China.

According to Hong Kong’s Highways Department (3-page / 160 KB PDF), the construction of the main bridge began towards the end of 2009 followed by the start of construction of the Hong Kong Link Road (HKLR) to the bridge in May 2012. As of June 2014, reclamation, tunnel and bridge works for the HKLR were in progress, the Highways Department said. The target commissioning date for the main bridge is 2016.

The PRD is one of China's leading economic regions and a major manufacturing centre. The zone is formed by nine cities including the provincial capital of Guangzhou. Figures published by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) this year said the PRD region accounted for 9.3% of China’s gross domestic product in 2012.

HKTDC said foreign capital “plays a major role in PRD's industrial development”. In 2012, the region’s utilised foreign direct investment (FDI) stood at $21.5bn, 19% of the national total, HKTDC said. “Foreign enterprises, most of which are from Hong Kong, accounted for 60% of Guangdong's total exports. Shenzhen, Dongguan and Guangzhou, thanks to their proximity to Hong Kong, are the three cities in the PRD that attracted the most FDI.”

By the end of 2012, the total number of private enterprises in Guangdong reached 1.25 million, up from 258,620 in 2002, HKTDC said. From 2000 to 2012, exports by Guangdong’s private enterprises increased from $4.1bn to $166bn.