CHINA> Regional
Shanghai's crackdown gets explosive
By Qian Yanfeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-07-22 08:15

SHANGHAI: The city's police have confiscated more than 6,000 flammable and explosive items from subway commuters since March, authorities said.

The discovery of the dangerous items is part of a five-month citywide campaign to boost transportation safety ahead of the Shanghai 2010 World Expo.

Police said they also detained 19 commuters during the crackdown for up to 15 days because they brought banned objects into subway stations.

The detentions follow a March 1 ban by the municipal government which prohibits passengers from bringing any form of flammable or explosive material onto public vehicles, including the subway, buses, trains and boats. The ban will remain until at least Dec 31, 2010, when the World Expo ends.

The city imposed similar bans during last year's Beijing Olympics.

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Shanghai police stepped up checks on banned items on public transportation after the June 5 Chengdu bus blaze, in which a man deliberately ignited gas on a bus, killing 27 people and injuring 74.

Police will increase checks and install more cameras on public vehicles "to prevent similar tragedies from happening again", as well as ensuring safety for the upcoming World Expo with its estimated 70 million visitors.

Earlier checks on the city's buses also revealed a widespread lack of emergency hammers to help passengers escape the vehicles. But after the checks all bus companies have ensured the availability of the item, police said.

X-ray scanning machines and explosives detectors will be in place at major metro transfer stations and those near the Expo site before the event begins next May.

The police also plan to install an additional 3,000 surveillance cameras at the sites to increase safety, said Liu Hao, deputy director of the metro police bureau.

Similarly, police urged local metro operator Shanghai Shentong Metro Group to renew old cameras on the subway, some of which have been in use for eight years without proper maintenance, authorities said.

Zhang Wei from the bus police bureau also said all newly manufactured buses will be installed with cameras. Buses currently traveling within the city's Inner Ring will be installed with the equipment by the end of March next year.

Surveillance equipment is already in place in about 2,000 buses, she said.

But police also conceded that safety problems remain with the free shuttle buses owned by supermarkets, especially those that sell flammable construction and renovation materials.

"Less supervision is present there and we would encourage those people to take a taxi instead of riding the free shuttle buses to ensure the safety of other commuters," said Wei Miaolong from the social security department of the municipal public security bureau.