Curbing the construction of short-life projects

The Dangdong railway  building and a bus-railway combined flyover, with a total investment of over 20 million yuan (nearly $3 million) have been in operation  for just two years, yet are now  being demolished and removed to make room for a high-speed railway.

The building has five floors and its total  area is about 3,000 square meters. The bus-railway combined flyover is a significant part of the N 1 artery through Dandong city center and it takes the majority of city center traffic pressure.

On 4 May, work on dismantling the flyover had been finished. The demolition of the  building has not started, although the high-speed rail line is already under way.

The most troubling aspect of the whole affair is the high-speed railway project received official approval from China’s National Development and Reform Commission two years ago, when the flyover was just starting to break ground and no-one ever questioned why such giant projects were being “killed” from the very beginning.

The response of the Shenyang Railway Administration  is that the Shen-dan Passenger Dedicated Line project was approved  by the development and reform commission in 2009 and by the Liaoning province government and Railway Administration on Feb 2010, while the  Dandong No 1 artery project was completed on Sep.30 in 2008 and the railway building  was completed on July 16 in 2008.

So, according to the Shenyang Railway Administration, the construction of the two projects was not a waste of money because the Shen-Dan Dedicated Passenger Line project was established after the above two projects were completed. But they failed to answer how the route of the    high-speed railway was decided.

The head of the construction approval section of Dandong Planning Bureau said that the location of the railway building and the flyover were decided by the Railway Administration, not the local planning department and that the planning for the high-speed railway began only recently and the planning department had no prior knowledge before the announcement. And then, when the high-speed railway project was established by the Railway Administration, the regional government had to support it, which led to the current situation.

The section chief expressed regrets about the demolitions and said the department was taking steps to ensure that such a situation could not arise in the future.

But why do these “black sheep projects” ­- as local residents term the high-speed rail line ­- appear so frequently.

First, some regional governments don抰 carry out planning or make arbitrary plans. Second, supervision and control of government officers is not strong enough and administrative accountability for illegal projects is too weak.

Experts said it is necessary to build and enforce administrative accountability for urban infrastructure construction and impose life-long accountability on decision-makers. If necessary  legal measures should be introduced to make sure public money is not wasted.

The editor is an intern of She can be reached at

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