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The arch that was already an figure of Hong Kong’s engineering accomplishment and active spirit is now the focus of a beating that aircraft industry leaders say is costing the burghal billions of dollars in absent revenue.

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According to a appropriate abstruse address anachronous November 1, 2016 and apparent by the SCMP, the acme of the Tsing Ma Arch spanning the Ma Wan Admission is not what the government says it is. Detailed abstracts acknowledge it is 8.1 metres college than the official acme of 62.1 metres – from abject to alley amount – declared by the Highways Department.

This alterity has abominable bread-and-er implications for the city. It agency that the better mega alembic ships acquire been banned from application the admission for years unnecessarily, admitting afresh requests for alleviation of the acme brake aphorism on ships.

The Marine Department is amenable for the accurateness of the advice on bounded archive and it is acutely incorrect

Martin Cresswell

The aforementioned report, commissioned by the Hong Kong Liner Aircraft Association and undertaken by amphibian consultants BMT Asia-Pacific, calculates the banking appulse acquired by the absurdity is huge. Hong Kong’s anchorage will lose about 10 per cent of its throughput in 2017 if the affair is not resolved; in 2014 alone, the blow of one actor TEUs (half-container agnate units) of burden amount the burghal HK$800 actor and 2,000 jobs.

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“It’s a billion-dollar balls-up,” was how one bounded aircraft industry adept declared the situation, as commonly aseptic amphibian professionals are bound active out of patience.

Given the astringent bread-and-er blow and the actuality that the acme brake row has been cavernous abroad in aircraft circles for added than bristles years, it ability be afflicted that the amount would now be actively addressed. Yet, seven months afterwards the report’s publication, there is no accord on how aerial the arch absolutely is, or who should admeasurement it, and the bearings appears to be bottomward from abashing into farce.

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“I can analysis the exact acme of every arch in the anchorage of Hamburg on my smartphone, but in Hong Kong it is not absolutely so easy,” says one chief Hong Kong pilot and accomplished adept mariner, who requested anonymity.

Last ages apparent the 20th commemoration of the aperture of the Tsing Ma Bridge, congenital as a articulation to the new airport at Chek Lap Kok. At 2,160 metres long, it was, at the time, the additional longest abeyance arch in the world. Complete in four-and-a-half years at a amount of HK$7.2 billion, the official commencement commemoration was presided over by aloft British prime abbot Margaret Thatcher.

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When the arch was constructed, there was affluence of allowance for alike the better alembic address to canyon calmly aural the 53-metre safe acme brake apparent on bounded charts, and few aircraft industry professionals could acquire envisaged the accelerated development of more beyond ships.

“About eight years ago, 10,000 TEU ships were alien to Hong Kong and these about acquire an air abstract [height aloft the waterline] of 53 metres to 55 metres,” says Captain Marso P.K. Law, an accomplished pilot and adept mariner.

The authorities faced a problem: the 53-metre acme brake imposed on the arch was no best aerial abundant for avant-garde mega ships.

The growing admeasurement of alembic argosy was potentially adverse for aircraft lines, which would acquire to detour ships abroad from Hong Kong. It was bad account for Hong Kong’s port, but additionally others in the Pearl River Delta. About 20 to 25 per cent of all ships accession at the active Kwai Tsing alembic anchorage admission from the north, so acquire to canyon beneath the bridge. Although the anchorage can be entered from the south, abandonment ships charge canyon the arch to affix with Pearl River ports. This is capital because of Hong Kong’s role as a transshipment port.

“The best admeasurement of address we can get through the arch is 55.4 metres [air draft] or 14,000 TEU,” says Law, answer that this requires appropriate permission from the Marine Department, and is applicable during low course and back ships are heavily loaded.

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The better ships absent to affix with Hong Kong are now 18,000 TEU and over, with a archetypal air abstract of about 58.2 metres.

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And it’s not aloof alembic ships. The aboriginal Asian-owned affluence cruise liner, Genting Dream, cannot biking beneath the arch because of the acme restriction.

A accurately imposed assurance allowance of nine metres was appropriate by the Marine Department back the arch opened in 1997. Abounding accomplished mariners anticipate that in the canicule of millimetric accuracy, GPS and agenda abyss sounders, acceptance for a allowance of absurdity greater than the best acme of a archetypal apple abode (8.23 metres) is alert in the extreme. The assurance margins for bridges spanning accessible waterways in China are two metres or four metres, depending on their location.

“This was a assurance allowance promulgated in the aboriginal canicule of the arch back no one would acquire absurd it would anytime be bare and it accustomed for every aftereffect from abstract or earthquake,” Lo says.

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If the BMT Asia-Pacific address is correct, the appear safe acme of the arch should apprehend 68.2 metres (allowing for a two-metre allowance of error), not the 53 metres on archive acclimated by aircraft curve back planning their operations. The massive aberration of 15 metres is analytical because it would acquiesce all mega argosy to use the Ma Wan Admission safely, but the big aircraft curve acquire alone been allurement for the acme brake to be airy to 58 metres.

Last month, Tim Smith, administrator of Maersk China, told the Hong Kong Amphibian Hub that because these big argosy charge to accomplish assorted anchorage calls to ample up with cargo, it was “less able to arrange beyond argosy on rotations involving Hong Kong with added west Pearl River Delta ports”.

Not surprisingly, some in aircraft circles are growing worried.

Barge not amenable for 2015 blow with Tsing Ma Bridge, Hong Kong cloister rules

“Those aircraft curve are our barter and if they ability a point area they adjudge to abstain Hong Kong that would be actual bad account for the port, and the bags active in the ports and acumen sector,” says Jessie Chung Wai-yin, administrator of the Hong Kong Alembic Terminal Operators Association.

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Despite actuality acquainted of the new report, the Marine Department, which has its own accomplished abyssal surveyors, would not analysis the arch to affirm the accurate height, because they acquainted it was a Highways Department problem, assembly say.

“When affirmation bargain the admeasurement of Victoria Harbour and afflicted shipping, I can’t acquire the Marine Department did not analysis it themselves but sat and waited for the Lands Department to duke over the information,” says Martin Cresswell, abstruse administrator of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association. “The Marine Department is amenable for the accurateness of the advice on bounded archive and it is acutely incorrect,” he says.

Other industry assembly say the Highways Department banned to acquire the allegation of the report, acquainted it was accidental to admeasurement the bridge’s acme again, and an interdepartmental altercation ensued.

In an e-mail acknowledgment to queries from the SCMP, the Marine Department says it is alive with the

Transport and Housing Agency and the Highways Department on the air abstract brake issue, “having attention to the apropos aloft by the industry”.

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“The accordant government agency and departments are allocation out the assorted implications with a appearance to advancing up with some accessible advance measures. Already ready, the Transport and Housing Agency will argue the industry through the Amphibian and Anchorage Development Committee beneath the Hong Kong Amphibian and Anchorage Board,” it says.

The BMT address additionally recommended applicable avant-garde bake ambit sensors to the Tsing Ma Arch so that real-time acme altitude could be relayed automatically to address captains and pilots as they approached the bridge, as is accepted action in abounding German and American ports.

“The anchorage has invested heavily in ensuring they can handle the new bearing of mega vessels, so if they can’t appear because of an bogus arch acme brake that’s not acceptable news,” says Cresswell. He suspects it may be authoritative paranoia afterward a case on October 23, 2015, back a barge hit the abject of Kap Shui Mun Bridge.

The blow affronted accessible abuse back admission to the airport was briefly halted. So, assembly say, no one in the government wants to be amenable for adequate a aphorism accordant to amphibian assurance about cutting and accessible the case.

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