|Video Courtesy of NTDTV |
GUANGZHOU, China—In China, memory of the students who died in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake due to shoddy construction of school buildings is still fresh in people’s minds. The devastated buildings were described as “Tofu-waste construction.”
Recently, a blogger posted photos that allegedly show that the exterior decoration project worth 10 billion yuan (approximate US$ 1.5 billion) initiated by the Guangzhou government to prepare for the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games is actually a “foam construction project.”
The blogger posted pictures with notes showing a building north of the intersection between Jiefang and Zhongshan roads. The newly renovated first floor windowsill facing the street has an open gap in the wall. Photos show that the windowsill is made up of a thin layer of cement with plastic foam inside.
The photos drew mainland media attention. A Yangcheng Evening News report verified that the foam construction is indeed part of the face-lift project for the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.
Jiefang Road is a key section marked for renovation for the Asian Games and was most likely renovated during the Chinese New Year.
Among the recently renovated buildings, some of the windowsills already look dilapidated. The corners of the windowsills facing the street have already lost concrete, exposing white plastic foam. The plastic foam can be easily removed with a little tug.
The construction firm claims that what it calls “cement plus plastic foam” is for windows made with a new construction material called “fiber mesh.”
A spokesperson for the firm told a reporter from Yangcheng Evening News, “We followed the construction specs. The materials met all requirements, so there will not be any problems.”
Project Bypassed Official Review
According to a Xinkuai News report, Guangzhou invested 10 billion yuan in city reconstruction projects to welcome the Asian Games. Most of the funding comes from financing.
The director of Urban and Rural Construction Commission, Jian Wenhao, explained that the city government provided the capital, and the project owner, Guangzhou City Construction and Development Property Holdings (GCCDP), used that to obtain bank loans.
However, provincial People’s Congress representative Lu Guanglin told Xinkai News that the money received by GCCDP is still considered to be the government’s money: “While the city renovation project budget of 10 billion is not part of the government budget, most of it is still taxpayer money.” In other words, the government is spending taxpayer money, but bypassed review by the Congress.
In the past few years, the city of Guangzhou has made other urban renovation projects for the Ninth National Games. The media questioned these projects because many of the renovated roofs have already broken or fallen off.
Jian Wenhao claimed that the current project is different from the past because the materials are very high quality. He said, “All material will undergo a lifetime assessment; the expected lifetime must be more than 20 years,” according to a Xinkuai News report.
Many buildings among the 10 billion yuan exterior-decoration project use this new foam material.