Shaanxi Province in northwest China plans to invest 20 billion yuan (US$2.47billion), over the next five years, as part of a project to build more rural roads in a bid to speed up development thereby improving living conditions of farmers.
Chen Deming, governor of Shaanxi, said at a province working conference recently that the plan would also raise the level of service offered by rural roads and transportation systems.
"The following five years of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) are very important for rural road construction as the central government will carry out a 100-billion yuan (US$12.3 billion) nationwide rural development project," the governor said.
Taking advantage of the central government's plan, Shaanxi will focus on the construction of 4,500 roads that will link up all townships, and 5,600 roads that reach down to villages. It will also improve 7,500 kilometers of existing rural roads, Chen said.
"By the end of 2010, Shaanxi's total rural road mileage will stand at 115,000 kilometers, and all townships and 90 per cent of villages will be linked by buses," the governor said.
Shaanxi, a slow-developing province with mountainous areas in its northern and southern parts, has been plagued by poor transportation conditions. For some villages deep in the mountains the roads are even unfit for bicycles, according to Li Tangtang, an official with the Provincial Rural Road Construction Office, over the weekend.
In the past 10 years, local governments at different levels have concentrated on developing rural roads and a total of 11.5 billion yuan (US$1.42 billion) has been invested.
By the end of 2004, Shaanxi had 109,000 kilometers of rural roads, and 77.9 per cent of farmers can now at least get a bus from their villages, the official said.
Liao Shuanwa is a farmer living in a small mountainous village in the Qinling Mountains, some 50 kilometers away from Xi'an, the provincial capital. He keeps a chicken farm that produces some 200 kilograms of eggs every day.
"It was hard for me to take the eggs to Xi'an to sell, because the road was too poor for transporting the eggs which are easily broken. With it taking two days to sell all the eggs, this situation forced me to decrease output," Liao said.
"However, the situation was greatly improved when a road that links my village with Xi'an became operational in March 2004. Now I can easily drive my mini truck loaded with eggs to Xi'an in less than one and a half hours. I leave home early in the morning and come back in the afternoon. All the eggs produced the day before can be sold on the next," the farmer beamed.
By 2020, Shaanxi will have built a total of 125,000 kilometers of rural roads, according to government sources.
(China Daily August 9, 2005)