The public work force does all sorts of things. I can imagine all the various functions that require the readiness of different types of workforce quickly deployed to do various things, from hanging and distributing banners relating to Government sponsored projects and events like the coming G20 Summit in Hangzhou, to helping in directing traffic in over-congested routes, to transporting raw materials to public work sites.. Well, I’ve witnessed two really interesting ways some public servants can serve. The first was on the street near Wulin Square subway station in the Xihu area, where I waited for the green light, along with other electric bikes, on our side of the street. Interestingly, a woman in public uniform was standing in front of us with a water hose in her hand, spraying the whole area in front of me, followed by spraying the area to my right, where I would pass had I decided to turn right. Well, it’s the first time that I see this happen, so I’m not sure what exactly was the description of the job. Could it be that her act is part of the bigger effort to control traffic-stirred pollution? Well, what I witness very often is that every day late at night (around 12 midnight), huge cars with special effective spraying methods, would pass through empty streets, situating themselves in the middle of a wide street, and they would start carpet-spraying the street from both sides of the truck with lots of water. This practice effectively prevents pollution particles from rising with the air as it prevents the cars passing through the street the next day from driving the pollution particles upwards through the interaction of car wheels and the street surface. The water sticks the pollution particles to the ground, temporarily, helping control overall pollution in the air, and enhancing the quality of air we breathe. But in the case of this woman spraying this sidewalk, I’m not sure what results are to be achieved from this, but nonetheless it is a symptom of how serious pollution is perceived to be, and how desperate people are to tackle it in every way, efficient or not.
The other interesting story I witnessed happened as I passed through Gongzhuan Road, a street that digresses from Wensan Road in Xihu. This street is the key entrance to some international centers that include buildings containing some top business companies, including work-in-progress sites. So it all looks brand-new, except for the entrance to the street, where the road appears to have started cracking through the middle to the side, explaining the crudeness with which the street was built. There he stood, a public servant in uniform, standing there with his eyes gazing at the crack, alert and ready. It’s what he is required to do, to monitor the situation until the road actually collapses, or better yet, cracks out-of-control, and at that point the public servant would step in and call someone to deploy someone else to come patch it up. It is this incident that led me to start noticing all the obvious temporary patching that has been done to most streets around here. China is successful because it can make things quickly, with minimum standards, therefore the efficiency in catering for basic needs for a country of 1.3 billion people. So the streets are not ideal, but nonetheless it is efficient to go on with cheap street-paving, even if it includes some inevitable patching and sending people to stand there practically doing nothing but waiting. So here is an example of yet another occupation that a public servant may fulfill, monitoring a critical road situation while somewhat maintaining the safety of the passage.
I passed through the street on many occasions, here take a look: