英文

Editorial : Demolition of Zhuhai's Tramlines

【明報專訊】THE ZHUHAI MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT issued a statement on 7 May, announcing that it would demolish the tramlines that run along a thoroughfare in the city centre.

The Zhuhai government decided to build the tramway in question in the year 2010. It had purchased then the latest technology from Italy, which was a break from the traditional method of power supply from overhead cables. Instead, power was supplied from the side of the tracks, thus ridding trams of a braid-like cable connecting to the overhead catenary. However, that Italian technology had only been trialled successfully on five kilometres of track but had never undergone trials for commercial operation.

The new technology itself had many engineering defects; it also had difficulties adapting to the rainy climate of southern China. Still, the leadership of the municipal government was steadfast in its adoption. Seen from a business perspective, it was a risky investment. Had it succeeded, it could have been replicated in other parts of China's huge market, and its production could have driven the economic growth of the entire city. But to a certain extent, it was a political decision, which if successful could have been regarded as a political achievement.

The project was fraught with inherent and applicational problems. After repeated efforts by Chinese engineers to salvage the technology, the tramway, whose completion had originally been scheduled for 2014, did not come into operation until 2017. The tramlines, which measure 8.9 kilometres, run along a thoroughfare. Since they do not link up with commercial districts or densely populated residential areas, passengers have been sparse since its opening. This has in turn led to infrequent train services, which has further affected passenger numbers.

Three and a half years into its operation, the tramway serves 3,865 passengers daily, which is one-twentieth of the designed passenger capacity. Its annual revenues from fares are merely one million yuan, but the maintenance cost is 91 million yuan. In other words, the railway loses an average of 250,000 yuan every day. Its track takes up two car lanes, posing a serious problem to road transportation. Citizens are full of pent-up frustration.

This "phantom tram" does nothing to improve transportation but has incurred losses year after year. The time between the decision to build it and the decision to demolish it spanned the tenure of five secretaries of the municipal communist party committee. Secretary Gan Lin, who decided on the project, was moved to another post. Secretary Li Jia, who implemented the project, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for corruption. Secretary Guo Yonghang, who decided to terminate the tramway, was promoted to mayor of Guangzhou. Incumbent secretary Lu Yuyin, who decided to demolish the tramlines, took office in late 2021.

Lu has been in office for two and a half years. The reasons given in the announcement for the decision to demolish the tramlines, which have been left idle for three years, are that comprehensive research has been carried out from different perspectives such as urban planning, economic benefits, social benefits and operational safety risks, and that decision-making procedures such as public participation, expert confirmation, risk assessment and legality evaluation have been carried out.

The governance philosophy and measures as shown in the Zhuhai municipal government's tramway project have given citizens a very bad impression. It is hoped that after the tramlines are demolished and the roads are restored to their former state, the urban landscape of the city and the image of the municipal government will take on a new aspect.

明報社評2024.05.13:珠海一個錯誤決定禍延13年 還路於民還欠市民一句道歉

珠海市政府本月7日發出公告,宣布拆卸橫亙在市中心主要幹道的有軌電車軌道。

珠海市2010年決定修建有軌電車,當時是購買意大利一種最新技術,打破原來從架空電纜供電的傳統,改為從路軌側供電,突破有軌電車要從車頂帶「辮子」接駁到架空電纜。然而,意大利這套技術只是在5公里路軌上實驗成功,從未通過商業運作的測試。

由於這套新技術本身存在很多工程漏洞,對於適應中國南方多雨天氣環境也有困難,但領導層仍然「一意孤行」,從商業角度考慮,是風險投資,希望項目一旦成功,可以在全國大市場內推廣,從而在生產上帶動整個城市的經濟增長;但在某種程度上是一個政治決定,因為若然成功則可成為政績。

這個先天不足、後天不良的項目,經中國工程師多番技術挽救,原定在2014年建成的有軌電車終於2017年投入運營。有軌電車在一條主要幹道上,線路長8.9公里,由於路線並非連接商業區或者密集的居民點,通車後乘客寥寥可數,乘客量不足導致班次稀疏,反過來更加影響載客率。

營運3年半以來,日均載客量為3865人次,為設計載客量的二十分之一。每年票款收入僅100萬元,維護成本卻高達9100萬元,日均虧損25萬元。由於這條路軌佔用兩條車道,嚴重影響交通。市民對此有冤無路訴。

這條既無益於交通且連連虧損的「有鬼電車」,從決定興建到決定拆除,經歷5任市委書記,決定項目的甘霖書記已經調任他職,實施工程的李嘉書記因為貪腐被判入獄18年,決定停運的郭永航書記升任廣州市長,決定拆軌的現任書記呂玉印是2021年底上任。

上任兩年半的現任書記呂玉印,決定拆卸曬太陽3年的路軌,從公告中給出的理由是:從城市規劃、經濟效益、社會效益、運營安全風險等方面進行了充分研究,並履行了公眾參與、專家論證、風險評估、合法性審查等決策程序。

珠海市政府的有軌電車這個項目中,所表現出來的施政理念與措施,都給市民留下一個極壞的印象,希望在路軌拆卸並將原來馬路修復後,市容面貌與市政府的形象,也會煥然一新。

■ Glossary 生字 /

pent-up : pent-up feelings or energy have not been expressed or used for a long time

incur : if you incur something unpleasant, you are in a situation in which you have to deal with it

span : to last all through a period of time or to cover the whole of it

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