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China Daily Website

Paying premium for manhole covers

Updated: 2013-06-04 09:50
( China Daily)

The local government in Yinchuan, capital of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, has paid a premium of 100,000 yuan ($16,320) to a commercial insurance company to insure up to 100,000 manhole covers. The move will not only solve a nagging problem for the local government, but also ensure that manholes don't become a safety hazard for lack of covers and victims of accidents get proper compensation, says an article on gmw.cn. Excerpts:

Many people have fallen into open manholes in Chinese cities in recent years, and some of these accidents have ended in fatalities. For quite a few years, local governments have been trying to find ways to prevent such accidents. Now Yinchuan has come up with an innovative solution, which is really praiseworthy and deserves to be emulated by other cities.

Since compensation for victims of such accidents is usually not included in a city's financial budget, only small sums can be paid as damages to them or their relatives (in case of deaths). But in Yinchuan, the insurance of manholes will ensure that missing (or stolen) manholes covers are replaced in time and accident victims (or their relatives) get appropriate compensation.

But attention should also be paid to another problem, which at first glance may not appear serious. Once the manhole covers are insured, it becomes the insurance company's responsibility to ensure that manhole covers are not stolen and accident victims are adequately compensated. But given such an arrangement and the likelihood of the number of accidents increasing, an insurance company could become reluctant to pay appropriate compensation to victims or renew insurance contracts.

Therefore, even after manhole covers are insured, it should be made clear that the onus for accidents is on local governments.