Jerry-built urban constructions begin to take tolls on major cities in China

Author: Brandnew

On June 10, there were two separate accidents in China, both of which were downplayed by CCP’s mouthpieces. One happened in Ya’an, Sichuan, where a tunnel roof came off and the cave-in material hit a van, leaving one killed. Local emergency response department said on Wednesday that the cause of this accident was still under investigation and any new developments would be posted on its official account on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform. The other case was in Hefei, Anhui province, where a truck and a limousine were reported to sink into a hole after a road caved in.

In fact, such accidents were no rare occurrence in China and similar stories were told repeatedly before. On December 1, 2019, a street-cleaning vehicle and an scooter plunged into the chasm after a road gave way within the construction site area for metro Line 11 in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou, leaving three missing. About 10 days later, construction regulatory authorities in Xiamen, Fujian, blacklisted an architectural design institute from Guangzhou for a “fatal defect” in design, which caused a sudden ground collapse at an intersection near a construction site, followed by a major flood in the Xiamen subway. On the 21st of that month, another collapse accident took place near a subway project under construction in Changsha, Hunan. Barely a month later, 9 bodies were recovered after a bus fell into a pit when a road crumbled in northwestern China’s Qinghai Province. Recurrence of the same tragedies in a matter of 7 months is alarming enough to occasion the query as to the reasons behind the short lifespan of Chinese infrastructure.

The ever changing urban landscape is becoming a common sight as China steps up its pace of urbanization; many construction projects, however, are not built to last. While the authorities frequently blame bad news on natural causes, a flood, a storm or an earthquake, they are the ones who should be held accountable. For one, with no effective quality control mechanism in place, shoddy urban infrastructure could hit the lower end of its shelf-life long before expected. A project can be illegal sub-contracted to unqualified individuals at the cost of quality considerations.

In addition, the lack of supervision over power in terms of decision-making leads to short-sighted policies. For instance, pictures of soggy commuters trudging through knee-deep water went viral again on social media as southern cities in China were hit by torrential downpours. Urban sewerage systems in the country are largely ill-designed and neglected afterwards as Chinese policymakers choose to pour money into more prominent “image-projects” like overpasses or high-speed rail networks. With inadequate drains and pumps, even a single heavy rain can turn the whole city into a swimming pool, bringing traffic to a halt in the process.

Last, it is worth pointing out local governments like to tear down one project in order to raise a more expensive one. Urban constructions are sometimes dismantled not because they are dangerous but rather because local officials want to stimulate GDP growth with new projects. “Inferior quality” can serve as a legitimate motivation for demolition and rebuilding, and power rent-seeking and corruption could easily happen as a result. Whatever the reason is, CCP has placed no emphasis whatsoever on the safety and quality of infrastructure projects vital to people’s wellbeing and livelihood. For them, the loss of human lives is nothing but “inevitable sacrifice” of economic growth.

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Jun. 11, 2020