Chinese mega developer halts work after spate of site deaths

One of China’s biggest residential developers has admitted inadequate supervision and halted work on more than 2,000 construction sites after six people died in a collapse of temporary workers’ housing in Anhui province.

Ten workers were also injured in the collapse, during heavy rain and wind, of the structures at developer Country Garden’s site in the city of Lu’an on 26 July.

Shares in the company, which last year saw sales total more than $81bn, plunged after the accident.

It followed another site accident in Shanghai in June, in which a concrete slab fell on six workers, killing one, reports Bloomberg.

The latest accident prompted Country Garden to stop work on 2,200 sites for two weeks starting 1 August in order to carry out safety checks, Bloomberg reported, adding that the company said in a statement that it would get rid of external contractors who breached safety standards.

Bloomberg reports that that the latest accidents followed an order by Country Garden to its 4,000 staff to move faster in getting projects to market. The news agency noted that developers are racing to get residential schemes finished before central government clamps down on price rises.

That order, contained in a document seen by Bloomberg, threatened to fire heads of residential projects if sales started more than seven months after a land purchase, Bloomberg reports.

Now the Guangdong-based developer has expressed deep regret.

"In view of the recent safety incidents at our construction units, we are deeply saddened and admit that we have unshrinkable responsibility for the inadequate supervision and management," Country Garden said in a statement, reports South China Morning Post.

"We would like to express our deepest condolences to the victims and their families, heartfelt sympathy to our injured workers and sincere apologies to society," the company added.

The company also said it would punish the relevant project management teams, reports the Post.

According to Bloomberg, Country Garden’s president Mo Bin bowed in apology during a media briefing at the company’s headquarters in Foshan city, Guangdong, on 3 August, telling reporters that construction teams can now report potential safety issues directly to him.

However, in a statement to Bloomberg, Country Garden said said its targets for new building starts and project completions remained unchanged.

Image used to promote Country Garden’s concept for "Tech Towns" in China, in 2016 (Country Garden)

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