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Urban management must be improved

Updated: 2014-01-10 18:20

The municipal government must do more to alleviate conditions in areas were people live in cramped conditions rather than issue bans, says an article in 21st Century Business Herald. Excerpts below.

The term “rat tribe” refers to the migrant population living in underground city storerooms or basements. Recent statistics by Beijing’s housing authorities showed that about 280,000 people are living in such places in the capital.

Together with the “ant tribe”, some 160,000 struggling college graduates living in cramped conditions in the city suburbs, according to a report by the Social Sciences Academic Press, they are the most disadvantaged groups in the city.

They take the most tiresome and humble jobs that most Beijing residents would not do. They do not have Beijing hukou, or permanent residence permits and therefore cannot enjoy the welfare rights of urban residents.

These areas differ from the stereotypical image of slums. The migrant communities around Beijing see fewer crimes and have better hygiene conditions. Most of the residents there make a living by working. In fact, some college graduates also live in these areas in the first few years after leaving school, because of the low living costs.

Now the government has banned people from renting basement rooms and also said that no property owners should rent an apartment to group lodgers.

Such bans will squeeze the migrant population to suburban areas or force them to leave for good.

Some blame the migrant population for urban problems such as traffic jams, crowded public sites and even air pollution. These accusations are groundless.

The migrant workers play an indispensable role in doing low-end service jobs for meager payment, and they are one of the reasons that the city still remains efficient and competitive.

There is a worrisome trend among city governments in that they attempt to remedy urban diseases by simply banning certain categories. To control the fast rise in housing prices, they ban the migrant population from buying houses in the cities they have worked and lived in for years.

To solve road congestion, they ban the migrant population from buying a car. To clean the air, they ban cars from the other places from entering the cities.

The governments should really think about how to improve their management.