Macau and Zhuhai will share a customs and immigration facility very soon, as Macau’s Lotus Port checkpoint has been formally approved to move over to the new Hengqin Port area and will open on December 20. This was confirmed by the National People’s Congress, which formally voted on Friday last week to lease a portion of the port area to Macau so that joint immigration and customs facilities can be managed there. Today, Zhuhai media declared that the move would happen by December 20.
The Macau government has not yet clarified what the transport arrangement will be for passengers coming to and from Cotai via the Lotus Bridge once the Hengqin Port is operational. The new arrangement has no precedent. Kowloon West Station in Hong Kong, by contrast, is on Hong Kong soil. Hengqin is on the mainland.
At present, there is a small shuttle bus that takes people across the “no man’s land” between the two existing checkpoints. But passenger flows are expected to surge once the new Hengqin Railway Station opens, and the existing service will not likely be able to cope.
Moreover, because buses will no longer need to depart from and terminate at the Lotus Bridge checkpoint, it will be possible for point-to-point bus services to be introduced at the Hengqin Port. No announcement of any such arrangement has been made yet.
It is also unclear whether private cars will still need cross-border license plates in order to access the Macau area of the Hengqin Port. If Hong Kong is a guide, it seems unlikely that there will be no restrictions on access to the Macau side of the port. The Lotus Bridge can still be deemed a “Closed Road”, even if the checkpoint is moved across.
Either way, Macau is moving closer to the mainland, in body as well as in spirit, it would seem.