The mysterious ‘fourth zone’

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“Our future develop­ment for the city is limited by the short­age of land,” com­mented legislator Si Ka Lon during a telephone interview with Business Daily, saying that the attempt to diversify the city’s econo­my could not happen if the area of land remained the same, and observing: “Currently, there are 21,400 people per square kilometre and the city is heavily packed.”
Walter Wan Iat Meng – senior in­structor of the University of Macau in the field of Civil and Environmental Engineering as well as a member of the Urban Planning Committee – held similar views to Legislator Si.
“More land means the expansion of Macau’s development opportunities,” said Wan.
Si queried updates on the plan for the ‘fourth zone’ for his interpellation during the plenary session at the Legislative Assembly last Friday, suggesting reclaiming land occupying some 30 square kilometres within the 85 square kilometres of territorial waters demarcated by the central government in 2015.
However, Wan said the ‘fourth zone’ is merely a concept, indicating that “the concept relates to a plan of reclaiming land but it can also be referred to a usage of the water or sea.”
According to legislator Si, a Chinese authority from the Chinese Liaison Office advocated creating a second Macau; legislator Si perceived that the ‘fourth zone’ is for the purpose of creating a second Macau.
The MSAR Government also proposed the Urban Development Strategy Plan (2016-2030) to the city’s Urban Planning Committee in December last year, suggesting the construction of the ‘fourth zone’ in order to develop Macau into a ‘beautiful home’.
When asked about the use of the retrieved land plots, legislator Si said the plots are spread out in different parts of the city, saying that “these retrieved bits and pieces of land don’t provide a big piece of land for development.”
Meanwhile, unlike New Zones A, B, C, D and E currently under development, the ‘fourth zone’ is distinctive since the New Zones are just small plots of land.
“The new zones are for the development of residential buildings, but land is not only to be used for residential buildings,” said Wan.
Even given the close relations with the neighbouring Chinese city of Hengqin in economic and business development, legislator Si explained that the law and system in Hengqin is completely different from that of Macau; as such, Macau cannot depend upon Hengqin in developing its economy.
Chief Advisor to the Governmental Policy Research Office Professor Mi Jian said on Tuesday that there will be difficulties in creating the ‘fourth zone’ given that the creation of land would exceed the 85 square kilometres territorial water, adding the central government has stressed that the land cannot exceed the approved area, reported TDM Radio.
Mi emphasised that the central government has not expressed disapproval of the plan as long as the plan has support from the perspectives of science, rationality and farsightedness.
For legislator Si, the existence of challenges to construct the ‘fourth zone’ does not mean it is impossible.
“The [important] thing is whether to consider the city’s overall benefits,” remarked Si. “I believe the central government will understand if you stick to the facts.”
Regarding the location of the ‘fourth zone’, the government had recommended constructing the zone off Hac Sa Beach.
When asked about environmental concerns, legislator Si indicated that the construction of the massive land would obviously require the support of environmental and maritime evaluations, adding that “there is no other suitable place apart from the area near Hac Sa Beach”.

Still obscure
For Leong Chong In, chairman of the Architects Association of Macau and another member of the Urban Planning Committee, said he cannot express any stance when the plan itself is not concrete enough.
“As far as I am concerned, it is a plan to reclaim land, like an artificial island, to connect the city,” said Leong.
Like legislator Si, Leong, he agreed that “it is reasonable to reclaim more land given the state of the city”, while saying that important information such as the location and general planning are still lacking information.
When asked what to build on the new land, Leong said it depends upon the future need for the city’s development.
When attending the Urban Planning Committee meeting last December, Leong had opposed the idea of locating the ‘fourth zone’ near Ha Sac Beach.
“But if it is located some distance from the beach, and obviously supported by an in-depth study of the environment, if it is technically workable then I won’t object to the plan,” Leong told Business Daily.
For the architect, it is more preferable for the government to focus on the development of the New Zones.
“I think society can discuss the ‘fourth zone’ when there is more information about the plan in the future,” remarked Leong.