Hongkong -- one of the most crowded cities in the world and one with a traffic problem comparable with New York or London rush hours.
Hongkong -- one of the most crowded cities in the world and one with a traffic problem comparable with New York or London rush hours. Vehicle owners, until Wednesday (2 August), have had to go through the laborious process of using a ferry to transport their motor cars between Hongkong and Kowloon -- an ordeal that often takes as long as two hours during peak weekend traffic.
Three years ago, work began on a cross harbour tunnel to link the Kowloon side with Hongkong Island. Now after disputes, delays and technical problems the Hongkong motorist will finally be able to use what was termed an impossible dream when the idea of a road under the sea was put forward to test public opinion.
The tunnel has caused several high-level arguments. Vehicle ferry owners are rumoured to be seeking compensation from the Government -- estimating that as much as eighty per cent of their business will be taken by the tunnel. The motoring public have also launched the expected protests over the toll charges for the tunnel -- it costs about 40 pence (sterling) against the 25 pence charged by the ferry operators.
On Wednesday, Hongkong' Governor General Sir Murray MacLehose officiated over the opening of the tunnel. The total cost has run into millions of pounds but he operators are confident of taking as much as million pounds every six months in fares from customers.
Government officials spoke at length on the progress the cross harbour tunnel represented to Hongkong. For the motorist, they said, it would mean no more queuing for ferries and no more 30-minute trips across the windy harbour in all types of weather.
After a champagne reception in the tunnel, Sir Murray snipped the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the tunnel to commercial traffic. The first vehicles to begin paying fares were expected to begin using the undersea route a few hours later.