The Zipper Street Principle
James Fallows quoting one of his readers’ emails in the Atlantic:
During my time living here I have observed that this is such a common occurrence that I regard it as almost a characteristic of Chinese organizations in general.
I’m sure you’ve encountered many examples during your sojourn living here, so I will remind you of just one: the city water department tears open a street to lay new water pipes. A month later, the city sewer department jackhammers up the fresh concrete to install new sewer pipes. A couple months later, the new pavement is ripped up again to install telephone lines. All of this repeated jackhammering, noise, dust and disruption of traffic is a great inconvenience to residents and businesses of the street, as well as a waste of labor and materials.
It would seem that a small amount of communication and coordination between departments of the same city government could prevent this, yet the phenomenon is so common that locals have a name for it: “zipper streets.”
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