Beijing: Does your blood boil when you get caught in a traffic snarl? If so, then do spare a thought for motorists in China who have been stuck for the past 10 days in a traffic jam that stretches a good 100 km on a highway. Trucks bound for the Chinese capital are barely moving on the Beijing-Tibet Expressway, formerly known as the Badaling Expressway, due to ongoing maintenance construction work.
Traffic authorities are struggling to cope with congestion on the major national expressway on which traffic has slowed to a snail`s pace, Global Times reported on Monday.
The congestion is expected to last for almost a month, since the construction is due for completion September 13.
Local residents are profiting due to the massive traffic jam by overcharging drivers for food.
Since August 14, thousands of Beijing-bound trucks have choked the expressway. Now traffic stretches for over 100 km between Beijing and Huai`an in Heibei Province and Jining in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China National Radio (CNR) reported.
Minor traffic accidents and broken-down cars have aggravated the jam.
"Insufficient traffic capacity on the National Expressway 110 caused by maintenance construction is the major cause of the congestion," a publicity officer with the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau told the Global Times.
The National Expressway 110 is available to trucks with a carrying capacity of eight tonnes and more. The road had suffered serious damage due to the great volume of heavy trucks.
This month there have been more trucks carrying excessive coal or fruit, but the Beijing section of the Beijing-Tibet Expressway is available only to trucks with a weight of less than four tonnes.
Traffic congestion and road safety have become major concerns for Chinese motorists.
Some kill time by playing cards, while some wait patiently.
In the latest bout of congestion on the Huai`an section, a truck driver surnamed Huang, told the newspaper that he suffered "double blows".
He said: "Instant noodles are sold at four times the original price while I wait in the congestion."
"Not only the congestion annoys me, but also those vendors," he joked.
Wang, driving from Hohhot to Tianjin in a coal truck, had been on the Huai`an section for three days and two nights.
"We are advised to take detours, but I would rather stay here since I will travel more distance and increase my costs," said Wang.
The Beijing-Tibet Expressway and the Highway 110 are two of the major routes leading to Beijing.
The huge traffic jam has failed to dampen spirits with some people joking that "concerts should be held at each congested area every weekend, to alleviate drivers` homesickness".
About 400 traffic police officers are on duty to maintain order and to prevent further accidents.
Some critics attribute the worsening congestion to poor road planning and lack of proper implementation of regulations.
"If there`s no traffic jam in the city, that would be news," said Niu Fengrui, director of the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
"Our government should pick up the pace of urban infrastructure construction and spend some of its budget," he said.