Macau casino operators SJM Holdings Ltd and Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd have confirmed to the government that they will provide transportation for their mainland Chinese migrant workers that commute daily to the city. The two gaming firms will provide shuttle transportation between the underused Lotus Bridge checkpoint – linking Hengqin Island and Cotai – and their resort properties.
One of the operators will start such services next week, while the other will begin on May 1.
“We hope to get positive replies too from the other four gaming operators,” Macau’s Secretary for Transport and Public Works, Raimundo do Rosário (pictured, centre) said on Thursday, addressing the city’s Legislative Assembly.
He stated the measure could help ease traffic congestion in the northern area of the Macau peninsula. Most mainland migrant workers commuting daily to Macau currently use the Gongbei Border Gate checkpoint, located in that area, which is one of the most densely populated urban zones in the world.
There are no publicly-available data on how many of Macau’s casino resort workers make the daily cross border journey from the mainland. But the figure is estimated at tens of thousands of people. That also includes Macau residents that have moved to neighbouring Zhuhai, where housing costs are much lower than in the territory.
Some casino operators already provide transportation within Macau for their workers, with pick up points across the city. All six licensees also shuttle visitors and tourists from the city centre and border crossings to their respective gaming properties.
The idea of casino operators providing transportation and accommodation to migrant workers – known locally as ‘non-resident workers’ or ‘blue card holders’ – was included in the political manifesto of Macau’s Chief Executive, Fernando Chui Sai On. Mr Chui stood for the post unopposed and was elected for a second consecutive term on August 31.
Gaming operators are keen to present themselves as good corporate citizens and in step with Macau government policies including the promotion of local talent and the diversification of the economy away from gaming. Government officials have previously stated they would look into the non-gaming components of the casino resorts each operator is building on Cotai; how each company forms partnerships with local small- and medium-sized enterprises; and how each licensee develops the skills and career opportunities of resident workers; before deciding on gaming table allocation for the new resorts.
Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd last month announced its local restaurant and local retail partners for its new shopping mall at the HKD5-billion (US$645- million) Broadway Macau on Cotai. MGM China Holdings Ltd has launched a management associate programme, which allows Macau graduates to spend a year at parent MGM Resorts International’s properties in Las Vegas, before returning to management roles within MGM China.
Sand China Ltd on Thursday hosted a special event to promote its Sands China Academy, aimed at offering training and advancement opportunities to staff. Company chairman and chief executive Sheldon Adelson stated at the event: “We understand the important role a well-trained workforce plays in support of Macau’s transformation into a world centre of tourism and leisure.”
Secretary for Transport and Public Works Mr Rosário meanwhile on Thursday admitted he could not give an estimated completion date for the first phase of the under-construction Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, designed to move visitors and Macau locals swiftly around the city. The project has suffered major delays and is hugely over budget. Mr Rosário added there is still no revised budget for the project.
When the LRT was first proposed in 2003, the budget estimate was MOP5.9 billion (US$739 million at current exchange rates). By 2011, the estimate had almost doubled, to MOP11.07 billion.
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