Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau sea bridge will be inaugurated by Chinese President Xi Jinping today (23 October), South China Morning Post has reported.
Constructed at a whopping cost of $20-billion, the 55 km bridge will connect Hong Kong and Macau to the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai. This will be longest sea-crossing bridge ever built. The construction of the bridge commenced in 2009 and was slated to complete by 2016 but was hit by a delay of two years and a cost overrun running in to billions of dollars. The bridge will be open for public use on Wednesday (24 October).
Along with the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, which has now been in use for a month, the 55 km bridge built across the Pearl River Delta is part of China’s plan to integrate the mainland with its special administrative zones of Hong Kong and Macau.
China is envisioning a “Greater Bay Area” that will emerge as a technology-led economic hub comprising Hong Kong, Macau and nine mainland cities with the eventual objective of challenging California’s Silicon Valley, currently the undisputed hub of technology innovation and disruption.
It will be built on an area of 56,500 square kilometres across southern China, which is a home to a combined 68 million people.
The humongous sea bridge project is not without its share of critics who have described it as a ‘White Elephant’. Some have called it a “blood and sweat project”. 10 workers died and more than 600 were injured during its construction.
Recent estimates downgrading the amount of traffic expected has given additional ammunition to the critics . However Chinese officials refute such claims and are optimistic that the long-term economic benefits for the region may reach “tens of trillions of dollars”.