Thursday, 28 July 2011

China's Bureaucracy a Train Wreck

Heavy machinery moving the carriages -- but have they been examined yet?
Premier Wen Jiabao was in Wenzhou today to survey the site of Saturday's train accident and console the families of the victims.
Yesterday he called for an investigation into the incident where 39 died and some 200 were injured. He said the results will be made public.
"No matter if it was a mechanical fault, a management problem, or a manufacturing problem, we must get to the bottom of this," Wen said standing under the viaduct where four train carriages plunged. "If corruption was found behind this, we must handle it according to law and will not be soft. Only in this way can we be fair to those who have died," he said.
However someone was willing to take the blame. Today the designer of the train, Beijing National Railway Research and Design Institute of Signal and Communication Company came out and apologized for the accident.
"(We) express deepest condolences to the dead and a most sincere apology to the injured and families of the dead," the company said in a statement.
There is still no confirmed word on how one train smashed into a stationary one, though a report from Xinhua says there was a design flaw in the signalling system which prevented the green light from turning red.
Despite the expressions of "deep grief" and apologies, the families are not satisfied with how officials are handling the accident or the investigations.
First of all, after the accident the site was disturbed by heavy machinery and it looked like officials were trying to hide evidence they claimed was technology that was of national security importance.
Xiang Weiyi recovering in hospital
And then the families felt not enough time was spent going through each of the carriages to find survivors and bodies; 21 hours later did a police captain disobey orders and manage to find two-year-old Xiang Weiyi alive. She is dealing with gangrene in her leg and will have to undergo surgery to remove the dead tissue around the wound.
Next officials started making deals with the families of the victims, offering the first family 500,000 RMB ($77,579) in compensation and it was reported the breakdown of the amount included a few thousand RMB as a bonus for signing on early. So basically the less questions you ask or the faster you accept the payment, the more you'll get. This further enraged other families who say they don't care about the money and instead want to know exactly how and why their loved ones died.
Now with the orders of an investigation from the Central government with the results that will be made public, how can investigators find outhow things went wrong when the carriages have already been damaged by diggers? And where is the driver of the train of the stationary car? Why hasn't he been interviewed yet? Why didn't the Central government order an investigation earlier?
What's even more intriguing is that Wen apologized for not being able to the crash site earlier.
"Over this time I've been ill and spent 11 days on a sickbed. the doctor only today reluctantly allowed me to check out of hospital," Wen said.
The Premier was in hospital for almost two weeks and we didn't even know about it?
Things keep getting stranger and stranger.
And where is President Hu Jintao in all of this? He has not said a word about this accident as far as I have seen or heard.
The government on all levels has completely bungled this entire incident and the public is not afraid to vent its frustrations on the ineptness of the bureaucracy. People are tired of hearing excuses or vague answers -- they want the truth -- for once.

So why is it so hard for the government to give it to them?

1 comment:

  1. it is a real shame how this whole mess is handled. it is a solemn lesson learned by paying 40 human lives and hundreds injuries.