Photos: Rural migrants’ temporary abode
Note: By Adeline Wang, one of our contributors.
Under the bridge, on the riverside, inside the tunnel, there are shelters that have become home to China’s massive workforce. The moment the skyscrapers are erected and replace what were there, those who help built them will leave without a trace. And those strangers, they are rural migrants.
On the construction site right next to Chongqing Grand Theatre, two brothers sleep under an improvised tent using a tarpaulin as a fly. They are the watchmen on this site.
For most migrant workers, being able to support their family with a job, to get paid on time and to have a roof at night, that’s the greatest satisfaction.
In Chongqing, there’s such a group living in the “temporary tents”. Usually, they just move from one place to another. Sometimes they move every now and then; sometimes they’d stay in one tent for months until the end of the project.
Seven construction workers put up a makeshift tent, which is easy to make and break.
Mr. Yu, 60 years old, is living in a tarpaulin tent on a construction site that has barely anything going on. “At this age, the only thing I could do here is to keep an eye on the site and these machines.” The tarpaulin over the tent is leaking every time it rains. The muddy soil and the humid weather have aggravated Yu’s arthritis, giving him back pain all the time.
This is an improvised tent put up for those who watch over the excavator during the night. Only by having the vehicle right next to them can the watchmen have a good sleep.
Mr. Zhou, 47 years old, lives under the Sandong Bridge in Chongqing. He does not think there is much worth complaining under such living conditions. “We suffered from wage arrears before, but this is no longer a problem now,” He smiled,“We get 20 kuai (yuan) every day for meals and there’s always meat.” He is pretty content with things as they are now.
Just like Mr. Zhou, Ms. Li Mei (alias) from Yongchuan, Chongqing, has been living under this bridge for the past three months. She works on a site nearby. According to her, most of the residents under the arches are migrant workers from different places.
There’re 3 arches of 100 square meters and they hold sometimes more than 40 people. They’ve installed lights, water, and the public toilettes and bath houses pitched with canvas. Crude and simple, people respect each other. Men have a drink together after work while women chitchat about the day.
Under bridges are encampments of tents and shacks for migrant workers from various sites in the city.
“We have met people from different counties in Chongqing and even those from Yunnan province. It’s free to live here and it’s better than the temporary sheds”, said Li Mei. “Those who’re doing technical work earn more than 6,000 RMB a month and certain types of work allow you to get more than 8,000. It’s not bad. Still most of us get generally 3,000 each month.”
Some workers live on the site because they have to keep an eye on the heavy equipment, while other workers live usually under the bridges. “It’s not cold during the winter, but it’s really hash when it’s summer”, explained Li Mei, “Yes, it’s not as good as being at home, but since we are all from the rural areas, we’ve been through tougher days. Some dwellings back at home are even worse than this. Anyway, we didn’t hear much complaint around.”
“We are used to it”, “holding out a little longer, we can save more money to build a house back home”, “I need the money for my kid’s college tuition”…It’s a bridge arch filled with laughter and hopes.
A temporary home equipped with simple family belongings
Those temporary shelters shrink in size as the construction projects approach their final dates. Here they are, our rural migrants who contribute to the glory of the bustling cities, who are living on the periphery all along.
Selected comments from Sina Weibo
予之予时妈妈：They are almost sleeping on the ground in the open. It’s sad!
東經北偉：This is the real city.
越越吖吖：Kind of bitter…………
星心之愿：Why do you call us migrant workers? Aren’t you?
DawsonJ：What they care is really simple, real and strong.
朱-彦新：Lovable people, real society.
愛吃醋的趙老醯兒：The real reason is because they have been exploited too much. They are living without dignity.
Miss宝文：When I become rich, I’ll give you guys all my money~
你要的飞翔1986：They are not educated and they are wearing dirty clothes. They are doing hard physical work but they are simple and happy. Please, don’t push them out and don’t owe them wage arrears. Just let them go home happily with the momen!
秋天里的一棵大树：So sad! Only because they are rural migrant workers???
河南省残疾人企业家协会：In the city, they work hard but they don’t earn much. Their contribution made our busy lives convenient–the hardworking “marginal men”.
Q日昇日落Q：I respect their devotion to their jobs. But the citis’ prosperity needs more than the hard work of them. I don’t see the necessity to work hard on the comparisson. Those sheds are just temporary houses, only to facilitate the construction. Don’t connect it to the gap between the rich and the poor.
不死之色男：I strongly demand to abolish the garbage household registration system since the 1950s, which is far behind the world levels!! Give back to migrant workers their equal opportunities~Against the discrimination!!!
爱吃螃蟹八只脚：Our society is not fairy. The rich are richer and powerful people get more powers. People without money or power, can never liver better….Damn
四川万源_冬日暖阳：The city cannot be developped without them, while public welfares have nothing to do with them! Who are there really caring about their sickness and death?
靡曦：Compared with them, we are actually the lucky ones.
小兔不再乖：Aren’t we the same? We are also the laboring people.
博秀eddy：In fact, there’s no distinction between jobs. Everybody is born equal. We live to seek the peace of mind!
shawnpan888：Play the sadness card. Really? The city buildings exist because of those who live under the bridge, in she sheds and unfinished tunnels?
我心自由故我自在：Appreciations to the Communist Party of China! People will know more and more that the government cares!