Police direct traffic along the road from Shenmu county of Shaanxi province to Xingxian county in Shanxi province, June 7, 2010. [China Daily]
SHENMU, Shaanxi - Some 7,000 trucks carrying coal were blocked in serious traffic jams along the road from Shenmu county in Shaanxi province to Xingxian county in Shanxi province, with traffic police doing their best to try to break up the gridlock.
The truck traffic has lined up along the 100-km road linking the two counties for nearly one month, forcing the coal trucks to creep at a very low speed, said a driver surnamed Ma from Hebei province.
"I had been trapped in the traffic jam for five days and I could only drive some 30 km in the past five days," the driver was quoted as saying by Huashang Daily.
The situation has improved on Monday, as the trucks can slowly go through and the totally blocked sections of the road have been much decreased, Zhang Yong, head policeman of Shenmu county traffic police team said.
Although some 7,000 trucks are still blocked by the traffic jam, the speeds were faster than on previous days, as the police tried hard to make traffic flow, officials said.
The passage speed got up to 30 to 40 km per hour in some sections and the situation is expected to significantly ease one week from now, the traffic police officer said.
The two major causes of the traffic jams are the traffic volume, which is eight times the original designed road capacity, and the narrow roads in Xingxian county in Shanxi province, according to Wang Huaizhi, director of Shenmu county transportation bureau.
"The road to Xingxian county is 16 meters wide with four lanes, while the road in Xingxian linking our road is only 8 meters wide with two lanes. The vehicles had to slow down their speed when driving into Xingxian county from Shenmu and that caused the traffic jam in our county," the transportation director said.
As the requirement of coal for thermal power has gone up sharply in the summer, the trucks carrying coal from Shenmu, a major coal production base in north China, to the provinces of Hebei, Henan, Shandong and Jiangsu, greatly increased, Wang said.
"There are five roads from Shenmu to the provinces, but the shortest road is 200 km longer than the road from Shenmu to Xingxian, and we have to pay at least three times more in transportation fees if we use the other roads. So most of the truck drivers chose the road from Shenmu to Xingxian," said one truck driver, of the many from Hebei, Shandong and Jiangsu provinces.
Shenmu county government officials are trying to ease the traffic jam, as they discussed with the Xingxian county government officials how to keep the transportation moving.
More than 160 policemen were stationed along the road around the clock to ease the traffic jam. Local governments also provided hot drinking water and free food to the drivers in the blocked trucks, said Lei Zhengxi, magistrate of Shenmu county.
The Shaanxi provincial transportation department reported to the central government a plan for a highway linking Shenmu and Xingxian counties in order to resolve the problem of the traffic jams in the coal-transportation peak season.
A new road in Xingxian county linking Shenmu has also been planned and is expected to be built later this year, the newspaper reported.
Zhang Youxiao contributed to this story.