Tag Archives: highways

Report: “Mismanagement” stalling building projects across China

Work continues on the Darui Railroad in western Yunnan Image credit :cr8gc

Work continues on the Darui Railroad in western Yunnan. Image credit: cr8gc

Hundreds of highway and railroad projects are facing delays or otherwise running far behind originally envisioned construction timetables. This, according to a report issued by China’s National Audit Office, is a result of local governments improperly managing infrastructure funds — actions thought to have a direct effect on the country’s stalling economy.

In total, the audit of projects nationwide looked into 815 infrastructure programs across the country. More than 20 percent — 193 in total — were found “to be experiencing significant implementation lags due to a lack of funds or poor initial planning.” Together, the behind-schedule ventures represent government investment of 287 billion yuan (US$45.2 billion).

The architects of China’s economy have traditionally relied heavily on state-funded building projects as a means to revitalize the financial system in times of decline. Therefore, those lagging behind schedule due to mismanagement or misuse are seen as harming the economy in two ways, according to the audit. Not only are funds not being spent as quickly as they are authorized, but the benefits to localities through which new infrastructure projects pass must wait idly for any expected economic uplift.

In Yunnan, this is especially true in the province’s west. A railroad from Dali — traveling through Yongping, Baoshan, Mangshi and terminating at Ruili on the Burmese border — was originally expected to be completed in 2014. It will provide some of the most populated regions in western Yunnan direct rail access to Kunming for the first time ever. However, due to cost over-runs and awkward mountainous terrain, the line is now expected to open as late as 2019.

In an effort to speed up construction along the single-track Darui Railroad (大瑞铁路), Beijing injected a further five billion yuan (US$788 million) in annual funding for the endeavor beginning in 2012. The 335 kilometer railway is 75 percent tunnels and bridges, making for difficult surveys and slow progress, especially in places where engineers must dig under theGaoligong Mountains.

The railway was first conceived of in 1938 as a way to connect Kunming with the British colony of Burma. The outbreak of World War II scuttled those plans. However, they have since been resurrected as one part of the massive BCIM trade corridor, which Beijing hopes will one day provide an overland link between Kunming and seaports on the Indian coast some 2,800 kilometers away.

This post was originally published on GoKunming and written by Patrick Scally. It is reprinted here, in its entirety, with permission from the author. 

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Infrastructure money continues to pour into Kunming

Planning Map of Kunming Subway System Image: Kunming Rail Transit Group

Planning Map of Kunming Subway System Image: Kunming Rail Transit Group

The seemingly unlimited supply of development money made available to Spring City urban planners shows no signs of letting up. A new report released by the municipal governmentreveals 340 billion yuan (US$54.3 billion) has been allocated to “accelerate” construction, especially on the city’s metro, railway and highway systems, over the next five years.

Referred to as the “Comprehensive Transportation Campaign” (CTC), program costs include having at least six fully functioning metro lines by the year 2020, up from the current number of two-and-a-half. When finished, the above- and below-ground sections of the Kunming Metro will cover 206 kilometers. Three additional lines are also under consideration, but will not be finished by 2020.

It is not only the metro that will receive huge amounts of funding. So too will railway ventures designed to make Yunnan more connected not only to the rest of China, but also to its Southeast Asian neighbors. Among the 12 railroads receiving CTC money is a line that will one day connect Lhasa to Shangri-la and then Kunming, a bullet train to Shanghai and other railways linking up with Chongqing, and cities in Guizhou, Myanmar and Vietnam.

In addition to the expenditures for the metro system and vast railway upgrades, the Comprehensive Transportation Campaign will add more than 20 newly built or drastically expanded traffic expressways radiating outwards from the Spring City. The network of roads is planned to connect all of the “economically important cities of central Yunnan” and in some cases drastically reduce driving times.

One other key initiative involves logistics and Dianchi Lake. To facilitate all of the planned trade coming into and leaving Kunming once the aforementioned projects are completed, an enormous “integrated transport hub” is under consideration for Chenggong. If approved — and it appears the money has already been set aside — a 458 million yuan (US$73 million) shipping and receiving facility would be built on the shores of the lake, complete with a wharf.

The CTC’s 340 billion yuan price tag should provide a significant economic jolt to a city already in the throes of a long-lasting and frenetic building boom. In 2014, the entire province saw 70 billion yuan earmarked for infrastructure work — a number almost matched by annual CTC outlays for the Spring City alone. It appears provincial leaders, and those in Beijing, are still quite serious in their intentions to transform Kunming into a hub connecting greater China with Southeast Asia and beyond.

Editors note: This article was originally published on GoKunming and written by Patrick Scally. It is republished here, in its entirety, with permission from the author.

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Yunnan to Spend 70 Billion on Infrastructure Development

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Yunnan lawmakers were busy over the past seven days, earmarking billions of yuan for building projects across the province. The vast majority of the money will be used to fund the ongoing construction of 26 major highways. Other money has been set aside for waterway maintenance and “disaster mitigation” projects.

The Provincial Highway Bureau expects to initiate or continue work on 1,500 kilometers of highways in the next two years, it announced in a July 14 press release. In total, the new roadways will cost 100 billion yuan (US$16.1 billion), spaced out in annual 50 billion increments over the next two years.

Stretches of road scheduled for completion this year include highways connecting Lijiang toShangri-LaRuili to Longling and Huaping to Lijiang — which is a segment of the road linking Lijiang to Chengdu.

Obtaining loans for massive infrastructure ventures has become increasingly difficult as China’s once-humming economy continues to slow. Statistics published by news outlet Kunming Information Hub show that in 2011, the province experienced a two billion yuan shortfallbetween toll road revenue and what it owed in loans for highway construction.

To avoid a repeat of that deficit, provincial planners voted to implement tolls on many of the new roads, effectually passing the bill on to automobile owners. People traveling by bus will also pay a share of the costs. Currently, a 0.5 yuan surcharge is attached to the price of every long-distance bus ticket purchased in Yunnan. That fee will now be raised to 0.9 yuan to help fund highway expansion. Long-distance transport trucks will also face higher fees based on load tonnage and distance traveled.

An additional twenty billion was pledged for waterway upgrades. Details have not been fully disclosed, but some monetary allocations will fund canals connecting rivers to reservoirs as well as maintenance on dams and hydropower stations across the province.

Although highways and water infrastructure projects comprise the lion’s share of the recently allocated money, two billion yuan (US$322 million) was also designated for the prevention of ecological disasters. Surveyors have identified thousands of “hazard points” in Yunnan — places where roadside cliffs are prone to rockslides or where villages are threatened by mudslides due to deforestation. Over the past fifteen years, Yunnan has suffered a reported 17,258 geological disasters. These claimed the lives of 1,394 people and led to more than seven billion yuan in economic losses.

This article written by Patrick Scally was first published here on 7/15 on GoKunming.

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Filed under China, Economic development, Environment and sustainability, Governance, SLIDER, Yunnan Province