Macau still waiting for benefits of mega-bridge

Macau still waiting for benefits of mega-bridge

One year after the inauguration of the bridge connecting Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau, tourists have an easy life, but Macau"s logistics sector is still far from the new crossing.

The bridge, opened on 24 October 2018, "has been a great help, especially for tourists and Macao residents who want to use Hong Kong airport," says Kou Kun Pang, member of the Traffic Advisory Council.

Almost 40.2 million visitors have entered Macao in the last 12 months, 5.6 million more than in the previous period, according to Lusa calculations, based on official data from the Statistics and Census Bureau of the region.

Approximately 5.35 million tourists used the bridge border, considered the largest sea crossing in the world but the number of visitors arriving in Macao by ferry has fallen by 35.7% in the last 12 months.

"Coming to Macau directly from the bridge is easier to organise," explains Kou.

By the end of September, more than 33,000 buses had been entered or left Macao over the bridge, as well as nearly 214,000 light vehicles.

According to estimates from the three regions, the daily traffic volume on the bridge is expected to reach 29,100 vehicles in 2030 and 42,000 in 2037, while the daily passenger volume could be around 126,000 and 175,000, respectively.

Kou Kun Pang believes that traffic will increase in the future, namely after the award by the Macau government of more than 914 licenses for light vehicles, in a tender that ends on Wednesday.

Even so, the chairman of the Macau branch of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport believes that priority must be given to the transport of goods.

There is no official data on the cargo crossing the bridge, but the president of the Macau Logistics and International Transport Association, Victor Lei Kuok Fai, said that the sector has been missing out on the new crossing.

"The mainland Chinese authorities have not authorised Macau companies use this bridge," he said.

"We don't know why. I have asked the Council for Economic Development so many times, but so far I have not received an answer", Victor Lei told Lusa.

Kou Kun Pang believes that the problem lies in the customs procedures required to transport goods from Hong Kong to Macau, as well as the lack of drivers qualified to drive heavy vehicles.

During the construction of the bridge, several airlines were interested in using Macau airport to bring and take goods from Hong Kong and mainland China, said Victor Lei. But in the end, only Qatar Airways started two weekly flights last October.

The businessman fears that, with the uncertainty hanging over the global economy and the protests that have been affecting Hong Kong for months, the opportunity has already been missed.