Shaky crossings to get updated

Updated: 2012-02-28 08:13

By Li Yingqing, An Baijie and Guo Anfei (China Daily)

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KUNMING - People in the remote border regions of Yunnan province are to say goodbye to one of their traditional but more hazardous methods of travel.

Within the next three years, the government plans to replace or reconstruct all 42 ropeways across the three main rivers - the Jinsha (the upstream of the Yangtze River), Nujiang and Lancang - in the Nujiang Lisu autonomous prefecture of the southwest province.

Shaky crossings to get updated

On his way to a patient's home last year, Deng Qiandui, a doctor, gets across the Nujiang River by moving on a ropeway in Lamadi village of the Nujiang Lisu autonomous prefecture in Yunnan province. Within the next three years, all 42 ropeways across the three main rivers in the prefecture will be replaced or reconstructed, local government officials said. Qin Qing / Xinhua

Yang Guangcheng, director of the Yunnan provincial department of transport, said during a conference in mid-February that the government plans to invest 196.23 million yuan ($31.13 million) on the project.

A total of 36 ropeways will be demolished and replaced by 13 steel-cement bridges, and six will be preserved as tourist attractions relating to traditional-culture, Yang said.

The local government also aims to build more roads to connect the scattered villages in the prefecture, inhabited by ethnic groups.

Ropeways have been the most efficient transport method in the past for the local residents because the rivers torrents are too fast and dangerous for ferries.

Luo Rongqiu, of the Derung ethnic group, said it takes villagers less than 3 minutes to get to the opposite riverbank by ropeway, while walking other routes takes at least half an hour.

"It just takes a blink to get over the ropeway," she said. "But it's too dangerous if the knots of the rope are not fastened tightly or it sways too much."

Deng Qiandui, a local doctor, has been crossing the Nujiang River for more than 28 years to reach patients by ropeway, the only link from his village to those on the other side.

Sometimes in emergencies, Deng has to travel at night, making the crossing more dangerous.

Weng Mengyong, deputy minister of transport, said earlier this year that the renovation of the ropeways should be the top priority and construction of bridges should begin immediately, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Li Jiheng, governor of Yunnan province, said at a meeting in early February that the local government will invest more than 80.9 billion yuan in the development of the province's remote border region during the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-15).

Li said the living standard of residents in the region will match the average level of the province by the end of 2015.

Yunnan had also received more than 50 million yuan for the development of the region from the Shanghai municipal government in an aid program, the governor added.

Tao Yu'en, of the Blang ethnic group in the border area of Lincang, said that the living standard had quickly improved in recent years thanks to government investment.

"The Blang people used to live in the mountain region where the economy lagged behind and the living standard was quite low," Tao said. "Now most of the residents have moved into big brick houses from their traditional shabby huts, and none of the students has dropped out during their primary and middle school years."