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Hong Kong boxship chokepoint partially lifted

A chokepoint to liner shipping in southern China is being lifted partially later this week. Vessel height restrictions for ships heading underneath Hong Kong’s Tsing Ma Bridge will be lifted on Thursday from 53 m to 54.6 m, and to 57 m at certain hours. Ships ranging in size between 8,000 and 15,000 teu will finally be able to transit through the waterway below the bridge.

Hong Kong’s liner community has been calling for the height restrictions to be lifted for the last seven years as boxship sizes have leapt over the past decade. The bridge lies overhead a key channel leading into Hong Kong’s Kwai Tsing container terminal.

“Even at 57 metres, the latest generation of mega-vessels – bigger than 18,000 teu – require still further air clearance adjustments to be able to transit under the bridge. But, at least, with this latest adjustment from January 28, we will be able to accommodate most of the vessels within 8,000 to 15,000 teu that previously did not meet the Marine Department’s air clearance requirements,” commented Roberto Giannetta, the chairman of the Hong Kong Liner Shipping Association.

With a height of 65.8m at the lowest point within the navigational channels under the bridge, the Hong Kong Liner Shipping Association believes there is still room for further adjustments.

“If we can see the material and economic benefits to Hong Kong as a direct result of this initial clearance adjustment, I believe all parties will be more willing to consider further clearance revisions,” Giannetta told Splash.

The Tsing Ma Bridge is the world’s 14th-longest span suspension bridge. Completed in 1997, the bridge was named after the two islands it connects, namely Tsing Yi and Ma Wan.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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