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Career changes loom as GZ plans motorbike ban
Latest Updated by 2006-11-14 10:40:44
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GUANGZHOU: Motorbike taxi driver Huang Weiguo's job prospects for 2007 are looking increasingly grim.

Starting on January 1, Guangzhou will completely ban all motorbikes from its downtown area to curb pollution and crack down on the motorbike-borne robbers that have long plagued the city. Still, whatever the potential benefits, the move will also leave people like Huang out of work.

Huang, 43, has made a living ferrying passengers around on his 7-year-old motorbike since he was laid off from a battery factory in 2000.

"I can earn about 1,800 yuan (US$221) a month with my motorbike. I'm afraid I won't be able to earn as much even if I can find a new job," he told China Daily as he waited for passengers at a downtown metro station recently.

"I won't know how to earn bread for my family when that day (January 1) comes," he added. "Because of my poor education, I don't think I will be able to find a job that will pay enough to support my family."

He said he would perhaps move his taxi business out to the suburbs, where motorbike drivers will remain free to share the roads with automobile drivers.

The difficulties facing people like Huang have not gone unnoticed. Guangzhou's municipal government last Wednesday organized a job fair to help people who make their livings on the backs of motorcycles.

The event was sparsely attended, suggesting perhaps that many people were thinking of following Huang's example and taking their motorbikes out of town to try their luck in the suburbs. The fair held out the prospect of employment in 1,311 jobs that did not require much formal education or professional training. Most of these positions offered a monthly wage of about 1,000 yuan (US$123).

Ma Jianxiao, director of the Guangzhou Municipal Labour and Social Security Bureau's employment division, said: "The government will organize another exclusive job fair for (people affected by the ban) in February 2007," Ma said. "We promise to offer them a new job within one month as long as they are not too choosy."

The official said the municipal government would also offer financial aid and tax incentives to people who were willing to start their own businesses.

Motorbike entrepreneurs are not the only people who will be affected by the ban.

"Many people who drive motorbikes to work will have to start relying on the public transportation system," said Lin Weili, a clerk for a local bank in Guangzhou's Tianhe District. "I don't know whether I can manage to elbow into a bus during rush hour next year."

According to a recent survey by the Guangzhou Statistics Bureau, 400,000 of the city's 790,000 motorbike drivers will turn to public transportation for their daily transport after January 1. The survey also found that 150,000 people will start riding bicycles, while the rest will drive their own cars or walk.

In a recent interview with China Daily, Xian Weixiong, head of the Guangzhou Communication Commission, said the city will adjust its bus routes to make more buses available to pick up passengers outside of the city's metro stations. He also said the metro lines will have to be used more efficiently to accommodate the increase in riders.

Guangzhou began to phase out motorbikes in 2004 and placed an all-weather ban on motorbikes on the city's main roads on January 1, 2006.

Editor: Yan

By: Zhan Lisheng Source: China Daily Website
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