Rocky road

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-12-10 18:53:01

Workers survey the road being built in the Tenggeli desert, in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Photo: CFP

China is rapidly becoming a world leader in infrastructure development. Even as the country starts to export its expertise and capacity in this field abroad through the Silk Road economic belt, domestic challenges still remain.

One of the biggest hurdles to construction in China is the creeping desertification that is affecting the more than 435 million square kilometers, or 45 percent of China, that is either now covered with desert or is threatened by desertification, more than 80 percent of which is along the Silk Road.

The fragile yet harsh ecosystem of deserts poses a great challenge for infrastructure building and to connecting desert communities with the rest of the country.

In the heart of the Tenggeli Desert in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, a road under construction cuts through the sand dunes. Since the project began in December last year, more than 1,000 workers have been dispatched to the site, with 260 machines. In order to build the road, sand dunes in the way are flattened and the sand and stones are consolidated to form the base of the road.

The construction work has to overcome extreme climate conditions in the desert. Transporting construction materials through the vast sea of sand is difficult, as dust storms and the moving sand occasionally completely cover the work site, and sand temperatures rise to above 45 degrees Celsius during the day.

The road will be 7 meters wide, paved with a 4 centimeter-thick mixture of pitch and cement. The 208.26 kilometer road is expected to be ready for traffic next year.

Global Times

Female workers rest beside the base of the desert road under construction. Photo: CFP

Footsteps of camels are left in the desert sand. Photo: CFP

A child of a local herdsman plays near his tent home. Photo: CFP

An SUV drives through the Tenggeli desert. Photo: CFP

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