The operation of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge over the past year has brought tremendous opportunities and benefits to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area.
Launched on October 23 last year, the 55-km bridge, known as the longest bridge-and-tunnel sea crossing in the world, links Hong Kong, the city of Zhuhai in southern Guangdong Province and the Macau SAR. It is the first large-scale infrastructure project jointly developed by the three territories under the principle of “one country, two systems.”
Yau Kin-Woo from the Hong Kong Association of Youth Commentators has become a frequent passenger since the bridge opened.
“The bridge and the cross-border shuttle buses are very convenient for visiting Macau and Zhuhai,” Yau told Xinhua.
This year, Lau Suk-kwan, a kindergarten teacher from Macau, took students to the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort for their graduation trip. The whole journey only took them one and a half hours.
“In the past, we needed to first take a boat and then take a car. Sometimes children were seasick. It was really inconvenient,” said Lau.
“After just one year’s operation, the bridge port has become one of the busiest in the Greater Bay Area,” said He Feng from the bridge’s border control station in Zhuhai.
Over the past one year, the bridge has seen more than 14 million passengers as well as 1.5 million vehicles.
The bridge also injects new vigor into the area’s logistics and tourism sectors.
Lam Kam-fai has been working as a truck driver for 20 years. The opening of the bridge has slashed his travel time from Hong Kong to cities on the west bank of the Pearl River to four to five hours.
“I used to drive all day long for a single trip. It is much faster now,” Lam said.
Zhuhai Guangfeng Logistics Company where Lam works is one of the beneficiaries of the bridge. During the past year, the company saw its volume of imports and exports via the bridge hit 2.7 billion yuan (over $380 million), and delivered about 1.7 million parcels for cross-border e-commerce.
“Thanks to the opening of the bridge, our transportation costs have fallen by as much as 30 percent. The annual cost of operating 1,000 freight vehicles can drop 600,000 yuan,” said Zhang Jie, general manager of the company.
Meanwhile, according to the Macao Government Tourist Office, among the inbound passengers from January to September in 2019, the number of same-day visitors exceeded 15.9 million, up 30.6 percent year on year. The number of overnight-stay passengers also increased by 4.9 percent year on year to 14.27 million, indicating the positive effect of the bridge on local tourism.
The bridge is also becoming an important link coordinating the innovative development among cities in the bay area.
In the city of Jiangmen, 13 science and technology innovation projects signed between Jiangmen and Hong Kong are under further development. A total of 50 start-up teams from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan have settled in a local start-up incubator. In Zhuhai’s Hengqin Free Trade Zone, nearly 500 new Macau enterprises were registered in one year, bringing the total number of enterprises from Hong Kong and Macao to over 3,000.
Choy Yan-po, a young entrepreneur from Macau who frequently shuttles between the three cities, said the completion of the bridge has significantly improved the operational efficiency of his start-up team.
“We can handle our business in the three cities in one day, which was completely impossible before,” he said.
“As a significant hinge for the coordinated development of the Greater Bay Area, the bridge has brought and will continue to bring benefits and convenience to people’s lives in the region,” said Yu Lie, deputy head of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Authority. Xinhua