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Multilingual hotline set up for traffic
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Foreigners in Beijing will be able to report road emergencies to the 122 traffic police hotline in eight languages from July 20 to Sept 20.

In addition to reporting automotive accidents, they will also be able to request traffic information and inquire about temporary traffic controls in English, French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Korean and Japanese, Shao Jie, director of the Beijing 122 headquarters, told a press briefing on Sunday.

He said the move would "offer better services for foreign visitors". The municipal government has estimated that about 450,000 to 500,000 tourists will descend on Beijing during the Olympic Games - a large number of which will come from overseas.

Shao said about 60 students from China Foreign Affairs University will work as volunteers at the 122 headquarters during the Games to make the multilingual service possible.

The volunteers will undergo 15-day training courses in traffic rules and regulations before taking to the phones, he added.

The municipal traffic bureau also announced nine other measures to ensure smooth traffic during the Games, including:

Any Beijing resident who has more than one car but doesn't have at least one even or odd numbered license plate could get one of the plate numbers changed.

From July 20, the city would use a system in which only even or odd numbered plates could drive on certain days to improve air quality and traffic flow.

More parking spaces will be provided on roadsides or near communities.

More traffic information will be provided via media or the newly opened mobile phone website: wap.bjjtgl.gov.cn.

The bureau's deputy director Zhai Shuanghe said yesterday the city's traffic management bureau faced "unprecedented pressure" to ensure smooth traffic flow during the Games. "But all of our 6,500 traffic policemen have been well prepared for the arduous work," he said.

Also yesterday, police began security checks in the capital's subway stations. The inspections, which will last until Sept 20, are intended to improve public security and prevent possible terrorist attacks during the Games. Guns, ammunition, controlled knives, inflammables, explosives, and radioactive and poisonous materials are banned.

At the Chegongzhuang Station yesterday, five officers used portable scanners to perform random security checks. An officer at the station said passengers who appeared suspicious would be checked.

Shortly after undergoing an inspection, passenger Gu Xiaoxu said he believed the measure was necessary to ensure public security but was skeptical it would reduce crowding on subways. He carried only a small bag and said the check lasted for about 15 seconds.

Another concern he mentioned was how the authorities would decide who to inspect. "Do I look like a bad person?" he asked.

(China Daily June 30, 2008)

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