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World’s longest sea bridge between Hong Kong, China to open this week

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The world’s longest sea bridge connecting the cities of Hong Kong and Macau to the Chinese mainland is all set to open this week. The bridge took almost nine years to complete.

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The Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to attend the ceremony of the $20 billion bridge in Zhuhai on Tuesday. Officials are projecting the 55 km bridge as a key part of the Greater Bay area plan and a campaign to connect Hong Kong and Macau to 11 Chinese cities to form a high-tech region to rival Silicon Valley.

Notably, this bridge was scheduled to open in 2016, but due to repeated delays, it was pushed to this year. It is a key element of China’s plan for a Greater Bay Area covering 56,500 square km across southern China, and encompassing 11 cities, including Hong Kong and Macau, that are home to a combined 68 million people.

The bridge connects Hong Kong’s Lantau island to Zhuhai on the southern coast of Guangdong province and the gambling hub of Macau — a popular tourist destination for Chinese visitors.

The bridge will reduce the time between the cities from three hours to 30 minutes, which they say will enable commuters and tourists to easily move around the region.

Despite the focus on drive time, however, private car owners in Hong Kong would not be able to cross the bridge without applying for a special permit. The crossing will mostly be used by private shuttle buses and freight vehicles. The bridge is not served by public transport.

Most of the drivers will have to park at the Hong Kong port, switching to shuttle bus or special hire cars once they are through immigration. According to the report, Shuttle buses to cost $8-$10 for a single trip, depending on the time of day.

The bridge project has come in for fierce criticism in Hong Kong, where there was little public demand or appetite for greater links to either Macau or Zhuhai, and fears the city will be swamped by tourists from mainland China, CNN said.

In the year 2016, Hong Kong witnessed 56.7 million tourist arrivals as compared to 37.6 million in the UK, a much larger country.

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