The Hong Kong government has modified the language used to describe a completion date regarding the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge – a scheme also known as the HZMB.
It is now talking only about the Hong Kong portion of the bridge being ready by year-end.
In February, Anthony Cheung Bing Leung, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Transport and Housing, had been quoted in a transcript on the Hong Kong government’s website as saying: “At the moment – whether the main bridge in mainland waters or the Hong Kong-side works [construction site]; as well as the Macau- [and] Zhuhai-side works – the objective is to complete the works by the end of this year.”
But a Thursday press release from Hong Kong’s Highways Department said merely: “In accordance with the current works progress, the Highways Department is confident that the HZMB Hong Kong projects can be completed by the end of 2017 and achieve readiness for commissioning.”
The huge infrastructure project (pictured in a file photo) is set to span the Pearl River Delta and will in likelihood reduce road travel times between Hong Kong and Macau.
Several investment analysts covering the Macau casino market have identified the bridge as one of a number of public infrastructure improvements likely to support growth of mass-market tourism in Macau.
A January note from brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd had said that with the possible opening of the bridge in 2018, “traffic time from Hong Kong International Airport to Macau is expected to be dramatically shortened to [about] 30 minutes”.
A target date for commissioning the structure had been set for the end of 2016, but such commissioning was delayed due to a number of factors, including “shortage of labour … constraints in environmental protection requirements and slower than expected consolidation performance of reclamation works,” according to previous statements from the Hong Kong government.
Late last month, two workers died and three others were injured after a platform they were dismantling on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge construction site suddenly collapsed.
The South China Morning Post newspaper reported on Wednesday that since construction of the bridge began in 2011, there had been 275 workplace incidents, including 10 worker fatalities and 600 cases of injury.
Hong Kong’s Highways Department said in Thursday’s press release: “The 12-kilometre [7.5-mile] long HKLR [Hong Kong Link Road] will be completely connected in April, signifying the achievement of a key milestone of the HZMB Hong Kong project.”
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China