The world’s longest sea bridge has been officially opened by Chinese President Xi Jinping along with other leaders on Tuesday in Zhuhai, China.
The ceremony is a celebration of a lifelong dream that has now become a reality. The bridge connects Hong Kong, Macau and mainland city of Zhuhai at the Pearl River. It is a 55km bridge including an underwater tunnel that measures 4.2 miles. This allows the passage of large cargo ships. The usual 5-hour route of commuting in these neighboring cities would now only take around 30 to 45 minutes!
It is estimated to have around 9,000 vehicles to cross over although not everyone could pass through the bridge since special permits should be presented, clear immigration papers on passengers and a toll fee are required. There are also no public buses in service. For now, only private vehicles can cross the bridge. The building and construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge went through a lot of testing which has proven its strength and capability to withstand storms, typhoons, and earthquakes.
The construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge took 9 years to complete. It even caused the death of at least 18 workers and injuries on most of its team during the process. Accordingly, the bridge should have opened to the public in the year 2016, but there were delays in its construction due to controversies. Finally, today it is now opened for the millions of Chinese people.
The project costs around $20 billion which has gone over-budget. Many have doubted how the fees to be collected on tolls and permits could take back revenue since there is only an estimated of just $86 million annually from it minus the cost on its maintenance. These have been part of the criticisms of the project. Some say that not everyone could benefit from it while others are satisfied with it. There are also reports from a group of environmentalists saying that it has caused harm and damage to its marine ecosystem which is poorly recognized by the government.
The primary purpose of this project is to ensure that Hong Kong and Macau are fully integrated since both are gaining high profit in tourism and other businesses.