Mega bridge project faces criticism, opposition in Hong Kong

A key point of contention was the fact that the Hong Kong government has had to cough up HK$120 billion (S$21 billion) for the project so far, busting the original budget of 6.75 billion yuan (S$1.34 billion).
A key point of contention was the fact that the Hong Kong government has had to cough up HK$120 billion (S$21 billion) for the project so far, busting the original budget of 6.75 billion yuan (S$1.34 billion). PHOTO: AFP

From the get-go, the mammoth infrastructure project linking up 11 cities in the Pearl River Delta area has been met with criticism and opposition in Hong Kong.

A key point of contention was the fact that the Hong Kong government has had to cough up HK$120 billion (S$21 billion) for the project so far, busting the original budget of 6.75 billion yuan (S$1.34 billion).

Apart from budget overruns, the project was plagued by construction delays and fatalities - nine deaths and some 600 injuries since construction began in 2009.

Ms Crystal Pang, 23, a project executive, said she will not use the bridge as she has concerns over its safety.

"Hong Kong is affected by typhoons every year, hence the bridge will be under constant threat of typhoon. Even if it didn't break during Typhoon Mangkhut, it doesn't mean that it is safe forever," Ms Pang said, referring to the super typhoon which left a trail of destruction in the city last month.

She also does not think there are enough emergency stops or facilities to offer help in case of an emergency or accident.

Mr Ivan Chan, 30, who works in the insurance industry, said the bridge is of little use to him as he can take a ferry and get from Hong Kong to Zhuhai or Macau in about an hour.

 

"It is a waste of money to build (the bridge), and the time saved is not that much. It may be more convenient for those in logistics, cargo and trade but for ordinary folk, it offers little more than a scenic ride," he noted.

LITTLE USE TO HIM

It may be more convenient for those in logistics, cargo and trade but for ordinary folk, it offers little more than a scenic ride.

MR IVAN CHAN, who works in the insurance industry.

From Hong Kong, travellers can take local transport to the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities where, after clearing Customs, they can switch to a shuttle bus service to cross the underwater tunnel and main bridge before they arrive at the Zhuhai and Macau Boundary Crossing Facilities. Travellers entering Zhuhai or Macau will have to clear the Customs of the respective authorities.

Pro-democracy activists such as Mr Joshua Wong think the project is "serving the interests of Beijing to fulfil the political agenda of merging Hong Kong and the mainland".

Student Amanda Lam, 22, said Hong Kong might get even more tourists and vehicles entering the city with the new bridge. This will further raise property prices and worsen traffic in Lantau and New Territories West in the long term, she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2018, with the headline 'Project faces criticism, opposition in HK'. Print Edition | Subscribe