More than half of China's construction projects might be faulty because developers failed to adhere to industry standards, Minister of Construction Yu Zhengsheng said.
Mr Yu presided over a video conference on Tuesday in Beijing in which construction officials discussed the alarming number of substandard buildings on the mainland. The minister said he was deeply concerned about the lack of quality control and the licensing abuses that exist in the industry.
Mr Yu said last week that between 60 per cent and 70 per cent of the infrastructure projects and real estate developments in China failed to meet industry standards and regulations. The violations varied from the misuse of licences to unregistered developments to substandard work and the use of shoddy materials.
Xinhua reported yesterday that the ministry launched an investigation in September into 274 major projects and found that a third of the developers lacked the proper licences. According to industry regulations, a development plan must be approved by local authorities and the developer must prove that a quality-control supervisor has been employed before the authorities can issue a licence.
But the ministry told Xinhua that in more than 60 per cent of the cases they examined, local government agencies had failed to follow those procedures and had issued licences without checking the developer's credentials.
Mr Yu also attacked local authorities for committing fraud in the handling of bids or contracts.
Officials would sometimes award the contract to unlicensed developers or assign the contract without going through the proper public bidding process. Some local authorities had also turned a blind eye when developers illegally subcontracted projects and allowed subcontractors to cut costs and reduce the quality of work in a project, he said.
The Ministry of Construction has exposed several cases where a shortage of materials or inferior materials resulted in building collapses. In June a Citic building in Wuhan collapsed, killing five people. Four people were injured.
The widespread practice of cutting corners in construction work was also shown when a factory building in Yongjia county in Zhejiang province collapsed on August 7, killing 13 people.
Last week a suspension bridge in Yibin, Sichuan province, broke into three pieces, killing two people and injuring two. Investigators have yet to release their findings or say what they think caused the bridge to disintegrate but, according to the Beijing Youth Daily , local officials had been aware of problems with the bridge for more than two years. More than five months ago, cracks had begun to appear but nothing had been done about it.
Mr Yu warned that most of these shoddy construction projects were vulnerable to natural disasters such as earthquakes.
He said his agency would introduce tougher accreditation and accountability rules to try to weed out unscrupulous developers and hold local officials accountable for any shoddy construction work.