Investigator Allegedly Blames Mismanagement for Wenzhou Crash; Ministry "Blackmails" Government for Loans
A report from The Beijing Times claims that, as with the Shanghai Metro crash in September, blame for the Wenzhou high-speed rail crash has been found to lie with human error rather than, as originally claimed, equipment malfunction. From Caijing:
“After investigation and experiments, we can tell that the signaling techniques or the equipments were, so to speak, with no problems,” said Wang Mengshu, deputy chief of the panel, “the problem lies in the management ….”
The “good” equipments were not taken good care of, nor were they used properly, Wang explained. That led to the failure of the signaling when the accident occurred.
The manual operations later, as well, were not well-handed, Wang said. “The whole management system and the sense (within the railway system) are problematic,” he concluded.
In a later China Daily article, though, Wang claimed to have been misquoted, saying that he had expressed his own views, not the panel’s official conclusions:
“The reporter said he wanted to know about the probe, and asked why the investigative report had not been made public. I said, don’t worry, the State Council investigatory panel will release the correct and comprehensive results,” said Wang, deputy head of an expert investigating team ….
“The phone conversation with the reporter was neither authorized by the investigatory panel nor the expert team. It was all my own opinions, rather than views of the expert team or the panel,” Wang said ….
The investigative report was previously due in mid-September. But the State Administration of Work Safety then said they need more time to complete the probe, and the results have not yet been fully disclosed.
Meanwhile, Caixin highlights mismanagement at the Ministry of Railways, which recently “blackmailed” the government for over 250 billion yuan in new loans to pacify long-unpaid workers and cover other costs. The article notes that 70% of the ministry’s high-speed rail projects are now, to varying degrees, in limbo.
In some ways, the government and bank officials had no choice but to grant the ministry’s wishes. Without more money, the ministry and its contractors might have faced an angry backlash from tens of thousands of unpaid construction workers around the country, some of whom haven’t seen a paycheck since April ….
Like the disgruntled bankers, a CBRC source said, some regulators feel trapped and at the mercy of irresponsible decision-makers at the Ministry of Railways.
Ministry officials “made a death-defying effort to launch projects, then suspended the work and can’t pay wages, and push it off on regulators and banks,” [a] source said. “Banks saw an opportunity and went all-out to invest, then suspended (lending) completely when there was an issue ….”
That outlay of “200 billion yuan is just to see everyone through the Chinese New Year” in late January, said the a source from a major state bank.