In China, Traffic Jam Is Windfall for Enterprising Villagers

Villagers along a congested freeway in Guizhou took their mercantile mettle to the streets, as one New York Times reporter writes:

Compared with some of the more spectacular recent traffic jams in China, among them a 60-mile snarl last summer that paralyzed a major artery outside Beijing for two weeks, the thousands of travelers who spent the night trapped on a snow-coated highway in southwest Guizhou Province on Monday did not even warrant a mention in the local news media.

The immediate effect of the information vacuum was to suck more unwitting victims — including this reporter — into the morass, which stretched for miles along the four-lane affair linking Guizhou north to Chongqing .

Stranded drivers chain-smoked, stomped their feet against the chill and cursed the government for failing to come to their rescue. As the night wore on, fuel lines froze and cellphone batteries died.

The residents of Hetaocun, however, saw the unmoving necklace of taillights from their mountain village and got entrepreneurial. They roused children from their beds, loaded boxes of instant noodles into baskets and began hawking their staples to a captive clientele. The 500 percent markup did not appear to dent sales.

January 18, 2011 8:28 PM
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Categories: Society