Big wheel won't keep on turning

Top News | Riley Chan and Sum Lok-kei 31 Aug 2017

Hong Kong's giant ferris wheel has suddenly stopped turning - with its future remaining up in the air.

Disappointed visitors found themselves outside the gate to the Hong Kong Observation Wheel yesterday, a day after operators shut it down.

The closure comes weeks before it was supposed to be handed over to another operator.

A sign was put outside the gate said "closed today," without explaining why.

The 60-meter-tall ferris wheel opened on December 5, 2014. It has 42 gondolas each seating eight to 10 people on the Central and Wan Chai Reclamation overlooking Victoria Harbour, with rieds lasting 15 to 20 minutes.

The sudden closure of the wheel, owned by Swiss AEX, came after the license of its operator, ICONG,expired on Monday.

The Development Bureau said another company - The Entertainment Corporation Limited - won the bid to run the wheel in a tendering process in May, and that the Temporary Places of Public Entertainment License that the former operator held was set to expire on Monday.

It had told Swiss AEX that it should notify the public about the wheel's closure in an "appropriate" manner. But it did not explain why no prior notice was given before the wheel was shut on Tuesday.

A bureau spokesman said the new short-term lease would allow the new operator to use the existing wheel, although that was not a must as whether the existing wheel would be kept was a business decision.

He said the former and current operators were discussing how they would handle the transition and would decide how to handle the existing wheel.

The new operator was likely make a public announcement on the matter soon, he said.

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