• Fri
  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 1:46am

Flower pots force homeless migrant workers to move on

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 December, 2012, 3:53pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 December, 2012, 5:41pm

In Zhengzhou city, Henan province, the open spaces beneath numerous express bridges were filled with hundreds of flower pots overnight.

Previously, many migrant workers in the city took shelter under these bridges, unwilling or unable to afford proper housing.

The death of migrant worker Liu Hongwei under Lijiao Bridge last month caught the media's attention. He is believed to have died from hunger and illness amid extremely cold weather. Another migrant worker was found dead at the same spot a few weeks later.

The incidents generated public outcry over the plight of rural migrant workers and the lack of social assistance in China.

Pressured by the media attention, the Zhengzhou government has stepped up efforts to provide shelter for homeless migrant workers.

The flower pots and iron fences were put up as a solution to put off late night lingerers.

“People in uniforms came to confiscate quilts and force us to settle in shelters,” one migrant worker said. The government started to remove workers from sleeping in the open a week ago.

Migrant workers can now walk a hundred metres south of the bridge to a homeless shelter of about a thousand square metres, housed in a former a bus company warehouse. The government has installed several dozen beds, with additional space on the floor.

Of the several banners hanging at the intersection of Dongfeng Road and Nongye Roads, one reads “The life and health of migrant workers are our concern.” Another says “Beware of the cold weather; do not sleep under bridges.”

Another banner labelled Fengcan Road Sub-district Office has an emergency number for migrant workers written on it.

Li Baojun, a migrant worker in Zhengzhou, said that homeless shelters are not what they need. “We are not homeless,” Li said, “it is just easier for us to find work if we stay under express bridges. Trucks are unloading there night and day.”

Some internet users criticised the measures, saying that the government has no authority to remove workers. “What the government should do is to make sure that migrant workers are able to earn a living with convenience,” said one Weibo user.


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This is bad & bias journalism. How can moving the migrants into warmer/safer shelters be wrong? Yet the headlines give that impression & the article is nuanced in a way to give China a cold-hearted image. Have she observed (having lived in HK) that our underpass are covered by small concrete pyramids with the sole purpose of “forcing the homeless to move on”? Even in rich HK with its small 7 million odd populations, there are so much unresolved problems with the underprivileged. And you’re talking about a nation of 1.3 billion doing a job even the UN is approving of.
She is welcomed to her western ideologue but she shouldn’t be abusing her privilege to influence others.
There is good journalism because it provides a balanced perspective besides that of the government's. The migrant workers' opinions matter and it's important for them to be heard. In this case, they would like to make a living, and prefer to stay under the bridge. what's wrong with making their voices heard? Just because the author is not singing praises for the Party doesn't mean the facts are less powerful or true. Even in rich Hong Kong this is good journalism.


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