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Where there is a will, there is a way.

 
 
 

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年过半百,经历坎坷.少年遇"文革",下乡八载,虽历经磨难,唯斗志不减,农耕间隙自学不辍,终守得云开日出,考进大学.大学毕业后先后经历了中学执教,国企管理,外企高管,最后回归重执教鞭.目前在家精心培养有志掌握英语的中小学生. 我最大的愿望就是看到孩子学有所成,桃李天下.

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我新发表的文章《“拦路抢劫”》  

2013-12-16 09:46:11|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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前言:公路“三乱”(乱设卡、乱收费、乱罚款)犹如中国公路大动脉上的癌症,不根除,对中国经济后患无穷。但要根除,谈何容易,因为涉及的利益方太多,多年形成的利益格局盘根错节,千丝万缕。可以说,能否妥善解决这个问题,关系到中国行政管理体系改革的成败。必须痛下决心。

Highway holdup of a sort

 

Wu Guangqiang

ON Nov. 14, 32-year-old Liu Wenli, a female truck owner in Yongcheng City, Henan Province, tried to end her own life by drinking pesticide. Luckily, she survived after receiving emergency treatment at a local hospital. The implications behind the attempted suicide are far more than being heart-wrenching and thought-provoking; how the incident develops will have profound impact on China’s ongoing administrative reforms. 

Liu, like tens of thousands of other private truck owners in China, was eking out a living by transporting cargo in two trucks she purchased with borrowed money. Her dreams of a better life were soon shattered when she found herself bogged down in endless fines of various forms. According to her brother Liu Huaizhou, his sister bought the two trucks for over 600,000 yuan (US$98,000) in April but was fined over 200,000 yuan within half a year. 

As per newspaper reports, transportation officials stopped one of Liu’s trucks on Nov. 14 and asked her to show “prepaid fine tickets” — receipts issued by authorities after truck owners pay the fines for overloading in advance. Though she produced the ticket, the officials called in officers from highway authorities to check another form of tickets. When told that her monthly ticket was invalid, Liu was distraught and desperate. She left and then returned with a bottle of pesticide. She told the officials that she would drink the poison if they didn’t let her truck pass. When the officials said they didn’t care, Liu drank from the bottle. 

The story enraged the public and authorities are investigating the case. 

It’s hard for outsiders to verify the facts and details, but the fresh incident is a recurrence of an old illness, what we call the phenomenon of “three chaos:” illegal setup of checkpoints on the road, arbitrary fines and illegal charges on drivers. Sadly, since China’s first effort in 1994 to rein in such harmful practices, they have intensified rather than having been curbed. 

There is a vicious cycle going on Chinese highways: high costs of long-haul transportation, including exorbitant tolls, miscellaneous charges and fines — legal or illegal — which push drivers to overload, which then gives officials a good excuse to penalize drivers with more fines. The fines in turn lead to more overloading. 

Worst of all, some officials collect money for no reason. CCTV reporters, by undercover investigation, witnessed on several occasions how truck drivers were actually robbed by a host of officials from transportation and highway authorities with all sorts of ridiculous pretexts. 

On a short section of a road stretching through the provinces of Henan, Anhui and Jiangsu, a truck from a company in Henan was stopped twice in eight minutes and was fined 300 yuan. The officers didn’t even get out of their vehicles to check the truck before giving fines — drivers are sitting ducks. On the single day of Oct. 26, CCTV reporters found that 22 trucks from the same company were fined 24 times with total penalties of 2,600 yuan, or 108.33 yuan per truck. The company’s financial statement shows that, on average, each of its 40 trucks bears a penalty of 5,000 yuan every year, totaling 2 million yuan. Some estimates put the national total of fines on the road to a staggering 400 billion yuan a year. 

Behind the crazy harrying lies a mammoth, overstaffed organization that is dependent on fines for its existence. A survey discovered that there were over 200 officers issuing fines over a 110-kilometer-long section of a road in Liangyuan, Shangqiu City of Henan Province. In some counties in Henan and Jiangsu provinces, an army of road management personnel, usually 700-800 strong, has to be kept and only a smaller portion is supported by State funding. To survive, every officer is given a task quota to fulfill to collect money, thus forming a vicious cycle. 

Obviously, unless the irrational administrative system surrounding road management is thoroughly reformed, the stubborn problem will not go away on its own. The reform will be extremely difficult as it involves different interest groups in many respects. Now that Premier Li Keqiang has made administrative system reform his government’s first priority, expectations run high that this “cancer” in the artery of transportation will be removed.

 

(The author is an English tutor and a freelance writer.)

 

  

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