Macau’s Secretary for Administration and Justice André Cheong Weng Chon (pictured in file photo) confirmed on Friday that the opening of the newly-built boundary checkpoint between Hengqin island and Macau, known as Hengqin Port, has been postponed.
The delay was related with efforts to contain the spread locally of the Covid-19 disease linked to a novel coronavirus. The boundary crossing was originally targeted to be opened to travellers and goods within the “first quarter” of 2020.
Mr Cheong announced the delay in comments to reporters on Friday, on the sidelines of a meeting at the Legislative Assembly. The meeting was to discuss a bill enabling the city to have jurisdiction and responsibility for running the Hengqin port. Such arrangement had been previously authorised by the standing committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC).
The government official explained that the authorities still need to run simulation tests at the new Hengqin checkpoint. He said such tests could not be conducted at present, due to precautions related with the coronavirus health alert, namely the need to avoid large crowds.
Secretary Cheong said the simulation test would be based on the assumption that the new Hengqin checkpoint would handle a daily traffic of about 200,000 people. Such test could only be conducted once the virus outbreak was contained, he added.
The official said additionally that the Macau government would strive to have the new Hengqin checkpoint ready for traffic as soon as possible, but said that currently he could not provide a new opening date for the infrastructure.
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.
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