Security officials will be limiting the number of cars entering Beijing and stepping up vehicle inspections from today until next Monday in a trial run to prepare for the 2008 Olympic Games.
The move, announced yesterday by the Ministry of Public Security, is aimed at improving the city's air, easing traffic congestion and ensuring security.
On Friday and Sunday, only vehicles with license plate numbers ending with an odd number will be allowed into the city. On Saturday and Monday, only those with plates ending with even numbers will be allowed in, the ministry said on its website.
Police, ambulance and postal service vehicles are among those that will be exempt from the ban. Long-distance buses and vehicles carrying fresh or live agricultural products will also be allowed to enter the city, according to the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau.
The ministry also asked police in Beijing and neighboring Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi, Liaoning, Shandong and Inner Mongolia to intensify security checks at traffic checkpoints around the capital to prevent dangerous vehicles or goods from entering the city.
But it did not elaborate on what vehicles or goods would be considered unsafe.
The ministry said the move, dubbed the "city moat" project, was aimed at testing the effectiveness of the Olympic host city's efforts to ease traffic congestion.
It is also aimed at safeguarding a number of ongoing test events in the city.
According to the official website of the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee, Beijing will host six test events from today until Monday, ranging from beach volleyball, canoe-slalom, road cycling, baseball and archery to BMX.
Inside the city, environmental and traffic authorities said that from Friday until Monday, about 1.3 million vehicles - nearly half of the 3 million in the city - would be ordered off the roads as part of pre-Olympics tests. Violators will be fined 100 yuan ($13) according to law.
The city's public transport will operate at full capacity during the test period. Rush hour services on the metro system will be extended to two and a half hours in the morning and to four and a half hours in the afternoon.
The city will also put an additional 722 buses into service during the drill. All bus drivers and conductors and at least 95 percent of all taxi drivers are required to be on duty, according to a detailed plan released on Tuesday.
Du Shaozhong, spokesman for the Beijing environmental protection bureau, said that air quality would also be monitored during the reduced-traffic days.
Meanwhile, the city's police bureau has also announced a basket of measures to ensure the security of the test events.
(China Daily August 16, 2007)