CHINa

Cheers to construction shortcuts in China!

Nine people were crushed to death and 16 seriously injured when 200 metres of motorway collapsed in the Hunan province of China on May 17. The local media says that the company charged with demolishing the construction is who's at fault for the catastrophe. Read more...

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Nine people were crushed to death and 16 seriously injured when 200 metres of motorway collapsed in the Hunan province of China on May 17. The local media says that the company charged with demolishing the construction is who's at fault for the catastrophe.

The three kilometre flyover was built in 1995 and was in the process of being demolished. The operation was supposed to be dealt with by demolition giant "Nanling Civil Explosion" (NCE). But the company had chosen to contract the work out to a smaller company, which was under-qualified for the job at hand. According to the Chinese media, the entirely illegal scheme would have allowed the NCE to profit from the deal by paying the under-qualified - and therefore cheaper - company to do the work.  

Traffic was stopped from using that section of the road on May 5. Driving underneath the flyover however, was still allowed.

On May 15 the subcontracted company began carrying out tests in order to evaluate the amount of explosives needed for the job. Two days later, workers were drilling holes into the supporting columns when 200m of the road gave way onto passing traffic.   

Nine people have been arrested, including the managers of the companies involved. Three high officials have also been dismissed from their posts.

“The reason for these failures is due to the corruption of civil engineering companies and local governments”

Cao Jianhai is a professor at the Institute of Industrial Economy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The poor quality of construction in China is a problem known to many, and yet nobody has done anything to sort it out.  

The reason for these failures is due to the corruption of civil engineering companies and local governments. They're all benefiting from legal loopholes in the sector. When the government calls on companies to bid for contracts, it's often the company that's done the most lobbying - which includes bribes - that win the contract. It's not rare either, as in this case, that the company who wins the bid then subcontracts the work to a company which is not qualified to do the job.   

China is currently trying to improve the performance of its property market. Because of this, many towns have destroyed buildings to reconstruct bigger and better ones. In Beijing, the buildings being torn down date from the 1980s and early nineties. Luckily for the people that built them, they're being destroyed before problems caused by shortcuts become noticeable. But the risk is there. The government should take strict measures to protect its citizens."

After the dust cleared

These photos were posted on the Tianya site here and here.

Photos posted on the Zhuzhou city website

A few metres away, the same motorway crosses Hongqi Square, one of the city’s busiest roundabouts