Coal-blocked roads in China

Illegally mined coal is being blamed for a massive traffic jam in China. The jam has already lasted for 11 days, and is expected to last for two more weeks:

For years, small illegal coal mines in the province of Shanxi provided Beijing and its surroundings with a good deal of coal but so many of the mines would collapse or explode, and so many miners would die, (over 1,600 nationwide last year according to official figures) that the local authorities have closed most of them down.

That’s all very well, but China being China, the province of Inner Mongolia, to the North of Shanxi, has taken up the slack. And an awful lot of the trucks currently snarled on the G110 expressway to Beijing are carrying coal mined illegally in Inner Mongolia.

They are taking the G110, drivers explained to the daily Beijing News, because there are no coal checkpoints on that highway, so they don’t have to bribe any inspectors to turn a blind eye to their illegal loads.

The situation demonstrates the intersection between a number of relevant phenomena: infrastructure (including transport and energy), governance (including the enforcement of law and regulations), and the influence of the state.

Apparently, the usual cost to ship a 30 ton truck of coal from Inner Mongolia to Beijing is $1,765.

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