The much-delayed border checkpoint allowing closer ties between Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area in mainland China is expected to finally open next week, but only for cargo because of the coronavirus.
Following a delay of more than 18 months and costing HK$33.7 billion, the checkpoint is located at Ta Kwu Ling in the northern New Territories, and is named Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point in Hong Kong, and Liantang Port in Shenzhen.
Officials believe it will serve as an important gateway to the bay area, an economic development zone linking Hong Kong, Macau and nine other cities in Guangdong.
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According to the Hong Kong government, cross-border cargo vehicles will be allowed past the border from 4pm next Wednesday, after a ceremony at the Liantang port that morning.
“In view of the development of the epidemic, the new [checkpoint] will not be opened at this stage for private cars, coaches and hire cars under the regular quota, as well as passenger clearance services, to reduce the flow of people between mainland China and Hong Kong,” a spokesman said.
The crossing is the seventh land-based control point on the border between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, and adds to Hong Kong’s 14 existing control points on sea, air and land.
Because of Covid-19, all but three of the city’s border checkpoints have been closed since February.
The new checkpoint will open between 7am and 10pm daily.
On the Hong Kong side, it is linked to the 11km toll-free Heung Yuen Wai Highway, which connects to the Fanling Highway and opened in May last year.
The entire project took longer than planned because more time was spent on safety checks, the government said last year when announcing the opening date of the highway.
The Heung Yuen Wai-Liantang border crossing will be the first land-based one in Hong Kong with direct access facilities for both passengers and vehicles, and is designed to handle 17,850 vehicle trips and 30,000 passenger trips a day.
At present, cross-border traffic going from the eastern New Territories to eastern Shenzhen flows through the Lok Ma Chau, Man Kam To, and Sha Tau Kok control points.
Leung Kun-kuen, honorary chairman of Kowloon Truck Merchants Association, welcomed the new checkpoint, a faster alternative for truck drivers.
“We look forward to trying it out next week,” he said. “It will at least shorten travel time from Hong Kong to eastern parts of Guangdong because the Liantang port is connected with mainland highways and we no longer have to go through the congested city centre of Shenzhen.”
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This article New HK$33.7 billion gateway linking city to economic opportunities in Greater Bay Area opens next week first appeared on South China Morning Post