Tackling mountain of difficulties

Updated: 2013-02-08 09:57

By Hu Yongqi and Li Yingqing in Yunnan (China Daily)

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Tackling mountain of difficulties

Workers building a tunnel linking Gongshan and Dulongjiang township. [Photos by Zhu Yong / for China Daily]

Worker shortage

Two construction teams are working on the tunnel simultaneously. Zhou said his team has completed 1.4 km so far. But compared with the tunnel he helped build in Medog county in the Tibet autonomous region, he said this one is much harder because of the complicated rock formation and frequent shortages of food, fuel and construction materials.

"Too much water oozes from rock that has an extremely unstable formation and is hard to drill. Also, we are forced to stop work when blizzards come, because of worker safety. This means we can only proceed for six months of the year," said Zhou.

Last year, an excavator was crushed when part of the tunnel collapsed. Fortunately, none of the workers was badly injured, he said. The construction site didn't have electricity, and so five diesel generators worked all day to power the machines.

"It's tremendously difficult for us when the machinery breaks down. We couldn't find the right components immediately because the county seat is 50 km away and we were always running out of backups. Now, we always have two machines of the same model and replace the parts from one to the other," said Zhou.

A shortage of construction workers poses another problem for the engineers. Zhou's team has 36 technicians but also needs 100 migrant workers. In the past 18 months, 600 men have worked on his team, but 90 percent of them quit without notice because they couldn't bear the hardships and potential danger.

"Very often, I saw a worker asleep at night, but couldn't find him the next morning," said Zhou. "Then his co-workers would tell me that he left without taking any luggage. You can see how afraid some of the workers are."

When the road was blocked earlier this winter, the men stored and ate cabbages and radishes, the only vegetables they could obtain.

"No matter how hard the job is, I will continue with my work and complete the tunnel to the best of my ability," said Zhou.

Guo Anfei contributed to this story.

Contact the reporters at huyongqi@chinadaily.com.cn


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