CHINA> Regional
Makeover taking its toll on city slickers
By Xiao Wang (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-07-24 10:33

The ubiquitous construction cranes, cacophony of pneumatic drills hammering into the early hours and hordes of security guards sweating to get Shanghai expo-fit are starting to take their toll on the city's residents.

"The city looks like a gigantic construction site," moaned 28-year-old white-collar worker Wang Hao. "It's hard to get to anywhere because the traffic congestion is terrible."

With the expo scheduled to open in May, the metropolis is in the midst of a major makeover in its bid to provide a warm welcome to the 70 million visitors who are expected to flood in.

While residents are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to showcase Shanghai to the rest of the world, many are growing tired of the inconveniences they are encountering in the protracted build-up.

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"Road works often drag on until one or two in the morning," said Li Yangjie, 27.

"The noise is so annoying it has turned me into an insomniac." Li said he took little comfort from the news that housing projects in several city districts will be brought to a halt for eight months in April.

Meanwhile, authorities are working to strengthen security prior to the expo. Taking its cue from how Beijing prepared for last year's Olympics, the local government has unleashed groups of guards at metro stations across the city.

Another city-wide security campaign has community officials busy scouring homes to track and identify city residents. The project seeks to screen over 20 million residents, including an estimated 7 million migrant population.

These steps are all part of a broader plan to prepare for the most extravagant World's Fair to date. As such, tens of billions of dollars have been invested into upgrading the city's infrastructure.

The revamp will also see the creation of new subway lines and the removal of 47,000 billboards and other eyesores. To ease traffic congestion during the expo, commercial projects around the 5.28-sq-km expo site will also be put on hold.