Motorists are currently stuck in the world's worst roadworks, with 60-mile tailbacks and days of delays
In a list of the top places to spend the summer, a motorway just outside Beijing beneath a pall of smog and battered by ferocious heat would probably not feature. But some have little choice. For five days, thousands of Chinese motorists have been stuck in the world's worst traffic jam that stretches for 60 miles. And even worse, the 10-day queue is expected to remain backed up until at least the end of the month.
The mother of all road works have spawned a temporary and very slow-moving community. Truck drivers, their vehicles packed with coal from Inner Mongolia, wash themselves in the scorching heat by the roadside, play cards to pass the time, and sleep beneath their lorries. Occasionally they get back into the vehicles to move forward a few inches – then turn off the engines and get out again.
The ultimate driving nightmare has led to authorities posting 400 police officers in the area to prevent the frustrations of drivers from boiling over and to try to prevent criminals taking advantage of stationary vehicles to rob motorists. "One night, around eight robbers attacked six trucks and cars, and ran away with a total 60,000 yuan (£7,000). One of the old drivers we know was even injured and the windshield of his truck was broken," a woman with the surname Ding, the wife of one of the drivers, told the Beijing Morning Post.
By Clifford Coonan
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