Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge - An opportunity for logistics
The opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZM Bridge) is expected to boost the economic growth in China's Greater Bay area and facilitate the land freight between Hong Kong and Zhuhai despite a disappointing start.
Yick Chi-ming, the transport functional constituency Councillor in the Legislative Council, believes that the bridge would shorten the time and cost for delivering goods from Hong Kong to Zhuhai or Zhongshan, which is attractive to drivers.
“Traveling from Kwai Chung to Zhuhai by Huanggang Port and Guangshen Expressway would take a much longer time as traffic jam always happens there,” he said, added that if truck drivers cross the border through the HZM Bridge, they can save almost half of the traveling time.
“Before the bridge was open, drivers could only take one round-trip to or from the two places a day while we expect that they can take two turns now because the traveling time was shorter,” said Mr Yick.
The bridge has become an attraction to Mainland Chinese tourists and the Hong Kong Immigration Department said more than 103,000 people crossed the border through the bridge on November 17, the highest daily passenger flow since it was open.
Some people expect the opening of this mega bridge can benefit the logistics sector, especially land freights, but it recorded only one container truck used the bridge on October 28 and the usage numbers have remained low.
Cost-effective goods transportation
The bridge reduces the time of delivering goods between Zhuhai and Hong Kong and cuts delivering cost, which should benefit the factories there and enhance the logistics industry development.
Mr Yick said that using the HZM Bridge can save operating cost at a conservative estimation of 30 percent. He said, “As the mileage of the bridge is about 70 to 80 kilometre, which is shorter than the Huanggang Port and Guangshen Expressway so the cost of fuel can be reduced. Also, the road toll of the HZM Bridge is just RMB110 ($124.3) for a one-way trip. Comparing to a trip using Guangshen, the total expenditure can be saved for almost $1,500.”
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge has opened for more than a month, Stanley Chaing Chi-wai, the chairman of Hong Kong Land Transport Council, said as far as they know there was only three trucks used the bridge in the first two weeks.
Truck drivers and factories not ready yet
“I think that drivers and factories are not so familiar with the clearance procedure of the new port. Therefore, Huanggang Port is still the main port that they use. Also, logistics companies are not ready to provide rear services to drivers in the new port yet,” Mr Chaing said.
Mr Yick thought that the opening of the bridge is too sudden for drivers and factories. “The information about the bridge is messy, some of them even didn’t know whether their trucks can or cannot travel through this new bridge,” he said.
Li Fong-kam, a cross-border truck driver, said that he and his colleagues have not been using the bridge, but they will have a try when they receive delivery orders from Zhongshan and nearby’s factories. “Actually, there are not too many orders from Zhuhai and Zhongshan, because the factories prefer using feeder (mainland river vessels) to deliver goods,” he said.
Mr Chaing said that the clearance procedure of mainland river vessels is simpler than those at land ports. However, the trucks have to accommodate the vessels' schedule.
“It must take a daytime for transportation, as the delivery time is accorded to the vessel schedule. Meanwhile, it requires transportation between the two vessel ports and the factories or goods owners the procedure will be more complicated,” he said. “While trucks can provide a faster and cheaper delivery service, which cost only RMB3,000 for traveling from Zhuhai, Macau or Zhongshan to Hong Kong. The HZM Bridge is far cheaper and convenient, and (I) believe there will be more and more factories turn to choose using the bridge,” he added.
Mr Yick also agreed that land freight is more attractive than feeder services. He said, transporting goods between Zhuhai and its nearby cities accounts for almost 10% of the total cross-border land freight right now while he believes the number will increase after the opening of the HZM Bridge.
“The level of products producing in Zhuhai and the nearby cities has been improving and (they) will export to other countries through Hong Kong. Another point is that the cost-effectiveness of the HZM Bridge can attract factories from other cities to use it. In the long run, people using the HZM Bridge will increase,” he said.
The traffic and passenger forecasts of the bridge have been reassessed in 2016. There will be 29,000 daily traffic flows to the bridge in 2030, with a passenger flow of 126,000, which have been revised down by 10 percent and 25 percent, respectively, from the estimations in 2008.
New infrastructure poses threats
As the government said, the downward adjustment of traffic forecasts is mainly due to the construction of Shenzhen–Zhongshan Bridge, connecting Shenzhen and Zhongshan, which will open in 2024. Some people think that it may become a competitor to the HZM Bridge and affect its usage.
Mr Chiang did not think that it is an unfavourable factor to the HZM Bridge because Shenzhen-Zhongshan Bridge is far from the Hong Kong International Airport and Kwai Chung Container Port. “One of the advantages of the HZM Bridge is that it is so close to the airport, which is so convenient to deliver goods to it, directly from themainland.”
Meanwhile, Mr Yick said, using which route is just depends on the places they are going to and the time concerns of factories. “If the reputation of the HZM Bridge is highly praised, I think the usage of the bridge will not be affected."
《The Young Financial Post 新報人財經》
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