Volunteers to help out in urban crackdown
(01.12.2011)

The Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau announced yesterday it will recruit 30,000 urban management volunteers to help crack down on illegal stalls and illegal construction.

The shortage of urban management forces has caused the authorities to ask for more hands over recent years, however some temporary workers hired by neighborhood communities are often accused of rudeness and of resorting to violence when driving away illegal vendors.

Currently, Shanghai has 6,400 registered urban management officials, around 7,000 assistants — who are not authorized to issue fines or penalty notices and are often unemployed people in their 40s and 50s — and some temporary workers.

Bureau officials said volunteers are warm-hearted citizens who are interested in the wellbeing of communities and are likely to report urban problems they detect and any misconduct on the part of urban management staff. They will be recruited from neighborhood communities in each district.

The aim is to use the volunteers as a bridge between urban management officials and the general public, improving transparency and helping officials in education programs throughout the city. The positions will be unpaid.

“We will announce the qualifications required of the volunteers and their detailed responsibilities at a later date,” said Liu Weiguang from the bureau. “Overseas residents are also welcome.”

However, the volunteers will not take the place of temporary workers. “Strict training and legal education has been given to such people after five temporary workers hired by an urban management team in Minhang District beat a fruit vendor, causing serious brain and spine injuries, in July 2009,” Liu said.

Meanwhile, the city and district-level urban management authorities will have their spokespersons.