In most Chinese cities, I’m told that over 40% of the new buildings are unoccupied. That’s right, in a country where 1 million people make up a fairly “small town” there are THAT many empty buildings.
Which should give you an idea of how much construction is always going on. There’s a lot. The twiggy platforms, the red,white, and blue plastic sheets, and the green awnings are clues most of the time.
Really, one could write a book on the construction boom in China, but I’ve been thinking about all of the construction a lot more lately. Then, yesterday Chris had to go to the big general hospital here in Chengdu. Don’t worry, it was for work, he wasn’t hurt or sick or anything, but he definitely came back to the office a bit shaken by the hospital scene.
He said there were construction workers everywhere, many carried in by their friends because they can’t afford an ambulance. Crushed limbs, head wounds, slicks of blood all over the floor and people lying everywhere.
I knew there were a ton of construction injuries here, but I didn’t quite have a grasp on how many until Chris came home yesterday looking so shell-shocked.
This city is the kind of place where people use a jackhammer in the rain, at dusk, while wearing sandals, joking with their friends, and smoking a cigarette. (True story, we watched this from a table at one of our favorite ‘chuan cai dives here.)
People also work really, really long hours. The construction at our complex starts around 8:30am and goes on until about 7:30am, 7 days a week. When you are that tired and have little training or equipment, I can only imagine how dangerous everything gets.
While I’m sure the Chinese government is probably already working on ways to make all of the massive construction projects around here safe, all of this construction still makes me think that there should be some sort of organization here that works on training construction workers and helping them negotiate fair wages and working hours.
Is there already such a thing? Do I just not know about it?