Dilemma of the HZMB
Ir YIM Kin-ping JP
I was invited by the SCMP Luncheon Seminar on 19 Nov 2015 to debate whether “Hong Kong Zhuhai Macau Bridge (HZMB) – White Elephant or Cash Cow”.
The super connectivity of HZMB will allow huge flow of cargoes and passengers between the west bank of the PRD region and Hong Kong, benefitting HK’s logistics, tourism, finance, and commerce, etc. HZMB will also accelerate economic integration between HK and the PRD region, and the synergy effect will be enormous. “Unless we ruin it ourselves, HZMB should be a cash cow!” was my conclusion.
I described the fact that the artificial island near the airport had moved up to seven metres out of place due to a new dredging method as “a small hiccup in a big project”, not the media exaggeration of “Island drifting”.
Additional to unforeseen geology, unpredictable weather material price fluctuation and labour shortage, HZMB also faced unique challenges from judicial review and filibustering in the Legislative Council. These have made the overall cost rising and the original opening date virtually impossible. Would it become a new norm for HK’s infrastructure projects
In view of the successful experience of the 15 years old Oresund Bridge linking Denmark and Sweden, it was expected that people would travel on the HZMB and would benefit users from all three places in the PRD region.
Whilst I commended engineers for adopting a number of engineering measures to minimize the environmental impact, one environmentalist asked if both sides of PRD region are to be further developed, water quality will be badly affected. I rebutted that it is people who ask for development. Would we stop development because of environmental concern and do not address people’s need? My view was, “Let engineers resolve it in a sustainable manner”.