The Nanfang / Blog

Gongbei MRT station to be completed by the end of 2012… maybe

Posted: 07/23/2012 7:25 am

While no firm date has been released, residents in Zhuhai and Macau can expect the long awaited Gongbei station, connecting the Guangzhou-Zhuhai intercity mass rapid transit (GZMRT) to open by the end of the year, according to Zhuhai Daily. Of the four major Zhuhai stations on the MRT line, only Zhuhai North Station is currently operational.

Far and away the most important of the four stations, completion of the Gongbei station is now well behind schedule. The station is critical as it is one of two ports of entry on land between mainland China and Macau. According to officials, the project’s delay has resulted in serious congestion throughout the port. Moreover, until the station is complete, travellers have no choice but to take a 40-minute shuttle bus to reach the border as there is no other means of public transportation.

From the beginning, development at the site has been plagued with controversy, and construction woes. The high density of underground pipelines has made navigating the terrain incredibly complicated for construction crews. What’s more, following the July 23, 2011 Wenzhou rail crash, new engineering requirements and safety regulations were introduced, all of which have further delayed the project. Yet despite the delays, a recent progress report stated that construction could be completed as early as the end of August, provided there’s no severe weather between now and then, and all final inspections go smoothly.

As to when the station will be open to traffic however remains anyone’s guess. According to the Nanfang’s Danny Lee who recently investigated the story, completion by the end of the year is incredibly optimistic: “From what I could see, the station is far from finished. Major delays to the final leg of the rail line have clearly been influenced by the Wenzhou rail disaster… I suspect the station won’t be operational till sometime in 2013.”


Crackdown on visas for locals could make crossing into Macau easier for laowai

Posted: 06/27/2012 2:51 pm

Gongbei Border Control

You might be able to speed through Gongbei Port and into Macau soon, as Guangdong appears to be tightening visa requirements for Chinese tourists.

A report from the Chinese-language Macau Daily News cited unnamed sources saying local officials in neighbouring Guangdong could limit the number of Macau visas issued for locals, coupled with a limit on overseas spending on credit cards. Despite its reunification with China in 1999, Macau is still considered “overseas”.

Major Hong Kong-listed Casino operators Sands China, Galaxy, MGM China and Wynn Macau saw shares tank on the news on Tuesday, but analysts are split on the speculation.

From Bloomberg:

“Recent weakness in Macau gaming revenue and visitation growth could be partially explained by the visa restrictions and reduction in China UnionPay limits highlighted by the Macau Daily,” Cameron McKnight, an analyst at Wells Fargo & Co., said in a June 25 research note.

“The report on visa tightening is a bit speculative,” said Grant Govertsen, a Macau-based analyst at Union Gaming Group. “We haven’t seen anything so far to convince us this is happening.”

While Reuters reports:

“There has been no restriction of visas,” said Gabriel Chan, analyst at Credit Suisse in Hong Kong

Chan said new measures recently put in place should actually should encourage the flow of visitors by making it easier for residents to apply for a visa and lengthening the opening hours of the border gate that connects Macau to the mainland.

The numbers Macau are dealing with are huge, and could affect the gambling-heavy SAR.
From Bloomberg:

Macau casino gambling revenue rose 7.3 percent in May, the slowest pace since July 2009.

Reuters said:

About 25 million visitors from Greater China flocked to the specially administered region in 2011 – the only place in China where nationals can legally gamble at casinos – making up about 90 percent of total visitors.

Long queues at the Gongbei border between Zhuhai and Macau are an all too often occurrence as foreigners bemoan the sheer volume of people crowding into the border facility.  Unlike at Lo Wu/Luohu Port connecting Shenzhen with Hong Kong, Gongbei Port often doesn’t differentiate between foreigners and locals, resulting in long queues all around.

The last time local entry into Macau was tightened was back in 2008.



New 24-hour border crossing between Zhuhai and Macau proposed

Posted: 05/29/2012 10:08 am

Gongbei Port may soon have some competition

Anybody who has crossed at Gongbei Port has surely noticed the insane crowds of people moving back and forth.  Macau is a gambling haven for Mainland Chinese who are fortunate enough to get a travel permit, but the city is a whole lot more than just gaming; many Zhuhai residents cross into Macau to do their grocery shopping, and vice versa.  It’s not uncommon to see hundreds of elderly people walking across with grocery bags full of cooking items.  The result is sometimes a 30-40 minute wait – or longer – to get across.

To tackle the problem, Macau is proposing to build a second crossing with Zhuhai that would remain open 24-hours a day. says it would be equipped to handle 250,000 crossings per day.

The new checkpoint will be located where the Nam Yuet wholesale market now is, and will be for pedestrians only, however all details – including its operating hours – still need to receive approval from Beijing.

As construction hasn’t even started, it will be a while yet before you can make use of the new crossing.  Building an alternative to Gongbei is a good idea though, considering Macau’s casino business is booming.  Its gaming revenues are now five times what Las Vegas pulls in, making it easily the biggest gambling mecca on the planet.

Despite Macau’s staggering growth, many believe this is just the beginning.  Large casino operators are looking to cash in on the growing numbers of affluent people in China and Southeast Asia.



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