A joint investigation conducted by members of Shanghai’s top political advisory body and the local government has unveiled a multitude of shady construction practices that have plagued the city until fairly recently (only being deemed problematic in wake of the Jiaozhou Lu fire last November). If only it didn’t take the fiery death of 58 building tenants to make the city realize its building oversight system wasn’t as “well-constructed” as once thought.
Tung Hu, a real estate developer and member of the investigation team reported,
“During our investigation, we found that besides a serious shortage of engineering supervisors in Shanghai, many such companies are actually still affiliated with some suburban district construction departments.”
Not only that, but beyond the comparatively tame problem of a supervisor shortage and inadequate supervision by contractors, builders were actually paying off supervisors to turn a blind eye to crucial issues. Even in a city whose rules and regulations have never really been its forte (you couldn’t sue a doctor for removing the wrong kidney), the list of illicit and neglectful construction practices dug up by the investigation still raise a red flag.
Fortunately, the unlawful and irregular construction methods were taken seriously in the wake of the fire, and resulted in a total rewrite of the construction industry rule book. Supervisors must now live up to their name and actually “supervise” by reporting safety violations and Shanghai government departments are prohibited from receiving kickbacks from construction companies.
But is it possible to eradicated all corrupt construction practices? Recent events such as last month’s gas-leak-sparked fire on Wujiang Road could indicate otherwise.
Nonetheless, the illicit construction practices illuminated by the investigation point to the increased need to enforce the rules in a rapidly-developing city where shortcuts are taken all too often.