Citizens Versus Garbage Collectors

(Southern Metropolis Daily)

In Nanyang city, the government charges stores with less than 100 square meters in area a rate of 3 RMB/square meter for garbage removal services.  This standard rate is higher than many other Chinese cities -- it is five times higher than Zhengzhou, six times higher than Luoyang, and 10 times higher than Kaifeng.

In May 2007, the Nanyang city government re-organized its environmental department by dividing itself into three districts: Yuancheng, Wolong and Kaoxin.  In so doing, it assigned these departments to collect a total of 6.5 million RMB in fees, with the largest district Wolong getting a quota of 3.4 million RMB.  Once a district office meets its quota, it can keep any surplus for itself.  This system clearly motivates the district offices to meet its quota at the minimum and, in fact, the more the merrier.

On My 28, the netizen "nysky81" posted at the Tianya Forum: "I operate a small shop in Zhongzhou Road, Nanyang City.  On the morning of May 23, three women who claimed to be from the 'office' and a dozen 20-year-old men came to collect garbage removal fees.  I questioned why the fees were so high.  I asked them to show proof of identity but they refused.  They left and a garbage truck came around to dump garbage in front of my shop.  At around 9pm, I was ready to close shop.  Two young men came and smashed my glass door with bricks.  They said 'this should lead you for not paying your fees' and they jumped on the waiting motorcycles and sped away."

These types of post have also appears at Dahe Forum, NetEase Forum and other websites.  They came from different netizens and they have different photos.  But they all have the garbage heaps and broken glass on the ground.

Local media also reported all these incidents of businesses being blocked by garbage heaps.  Most of the business owners said that the government office leaders brought around a group of bald-headed or tattooed young men to carry out these actions.  Netizens were furious, as one Nanyang netizen summarized the case: "The garbage collection fees were assigned to gangsters who use garbage dumping and vandlism to extract high profits."

With the media exposure, Nanyang city mayor Mu Weimin held an emergency meeting yesterday afternoon.  Afterwards, he announced that new garbage removal fee rates will be effectively as of today, with the reductions being as much as 65%.  The Wolong district party secretary Wang Jibo promised that he will personally apologize to the businesses who were mistreated one by one, and he will investigate and punish the workers who attempted to collect fees by violent means.

Yesterday, a Nanyang netizen called this "yet another victory for netizens.  The Nanyang Garbage Gate incident was finally turned around dramatically at the call from the netizens and the businesses!  The force of the Internet cannot be denied.  I salute all those netizens who worked hard on this!"