The newly-built boundary checkpoint between Hengqin island and Macau – known as Hengqin port – is likely to be open to travellers and goods within the “first quarter” of 2020. So said the city’s Secretary for Administration and Justice, André Cheong Weng Chun (pictured in file photo), in a Monday press briefing.
Hengqin has been developing a range of non-gaming tourism facilities that officials on the Macau side of the boundary have touted as complementary to Macau’s casino-gambling facilities. Currently any foreigners wishing to cross from Macau into Hengqin to use non-gaming facilities including the Chimelong theme park complex, will need to apply via the same mainland visa system applicable for most of the rest of the country.
Macau will have jurisdiction and responsibility for running the Hengqin port. The arrangement was authorised by China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, Mr Cheong noted.
The Macau government had said in October that the city would lease a designated portion of Hengqin – housing the checkpoint area on the mainland China side of the boundary – from the authorities there. The lease would start from the time the facility opened, and run until December 19, 2049, although there is an option to renew it past that date.
Speaking to media on Monday, Mr Cheong said the Macau government was working on local legislation required to formalise and regulate the city’s jurisdiction over the Hengqin port facility.
“The law was actually drafted already, but it needs to go through discussion at the Executive Council and Legislative Assembly,” Mr Cheong said. The official added that the process should not take long; with the Macau authorities aiming to have the facility open in the first quarter of 2020.
The Macau government is also considering issuing “temporary” permits that would allow tourist coaches to travel to and from the new Hengqin checkpoint via the Lotus Bridge that connects the island – a piece of mainland territory – with Macau’s Cotai casino district. Such temporary permits were mentioned by a Macau transport official to the gathered media at the Monday press briefing.
The new Hengqin port – a facility due to run round-the-clock – is said to offer simplified customs checks compared to previous arrangements for movement between the two places. As the new checkpoint comes into operation, the current Macau-Hengqin checkpoint on the Lotus Bridge crossing itself, will be shut down.
A Hengqin official had mentioned earlier this month that the new Hengqin checkpoint was designed to handle a daily capacity of over 220,000 travellers, i.e., more than 80 million traveller movements a year.
Another boundary checkpoint in the city that connects Macau’s Inner Harbour area – on Macau peninsula – to Wanzai in neighbouring Zhuhai in Guangdong province should also be ready for service on January 23, the local officials told the media on Monday. The crossing point had been suspended from operation for four years. Once it restarts operations, the opening hours will be extended compared to previously. It will open daily at 7am and close at 10pm, the local officials said.
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