Chil­dren get safer way to tra­verse 800m cliff

China Daily (USA) - - TOP NEWS - By HUANG ZHILING in Chengdu huangzhiling @chi­

A steel lad­der will soon re­place a rickety rat­tan struc­ture used by chil­dren and other res­i­dents of a re­mote moun­tain­top vil­lage in southwest China to tra­verse an 800-me­ter cliff to reach the out­side world.

Work on the new lad­der con­nect­ing Atuleer with the rest of Liang­shan Yi au­ton­o­mous pre­fec­ture is ex­pected to be com­plete early in Novem­ber.

“Chil­dren who at­tend the board­ing school at the foot of the moun­tain will be able to more safely re­turn home to cel­e­brate the Yi lu­nar new year,” said Er Di­jiang, the vil­lage chief.

The pre­fec­ture, one of the least-de­vel­oped ar­eas of Sichuan prov­ince, has the largest pop­u­la­tion of Yi eth­nic peo­ple in China. Ac­cord­ing to the eth­nic group’s lu­nar cal­en­dar, new year cel­e­bra­tions will run from Nov 20 to 27.

The steel lad­der, com­plete with handrails, is be­ing built at a cost of 1 mil­lion yuan ($148,000), with the pre­fec­ture govern­ment and Zhao­jue county each chip­ping in half the cost.

The rat­tan struc­ture, made up of a chain of 17 smaller lad­ders tied to­gether with­out rails or other safety fea­tures, has been used by the vil­lage for years, but not with­out risk. A mid­dle-aged vil­lager was killed in a fall from a rat­tan lad­der this year.

Fif­teen chil­dren, ages 6 to 15, from 72 house­holds in Atuleer have used the rat­tan lad­ders on their way to and from their board­ing school ev­ery two weeks. Vil­lagers also have had to use the lad­ders to reach the near­est mar­ket sev­eral kilo­me­ters away once a week to buy ne­ces­si­ties and sell their farm pro­duce, in­clud­ing pep­pers and wal­nuts.

SongMing, an in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer for the Liang­shan Yi govern­ment, said there are many rat­tan struc­tures in the pre­fec­ture but the one to Atuleer vil­lage is the most dan­ger­ous.

“I have scaled rat­tan lad­ders be­fore. But when I scaled the one in Atuleer in Au­gust, I was ter­ri­fied be­cause it is so steep,” he said.

Photos of the stu­dents creep­ing up on the cliff on the rat­tan lad­ders along with a story, run in­May by a Beijing news­pa­per, caused an up­roar on­line. Liang­shan of­fi­cials de­cided to rem­edy the sit­u­a­tion.

But it was im­pos­si­ble to re­lo­cate the vil­lagers, who say they do not want to leave their lofty home­place. So Lin Shucheng, Party chief of the pre­fec­ture, promised to build a steel lad­der to re­place the rat­tan lad­ders to en­sure the safety of the vil­lagers.


Above: Mose Xiongti, 21, of Atuleer vil­lage, car­ries ma­te­ri­als used in con­struct­ing a steel lad­der that vil­lagers soon will use to more safely tra­verse an 800-me­ter cliff to their homes. The vil­lage is in Liang­shan Yi au­ton­o­mous pre­fec­ture, Sichuan prov­ince.


Left: School­child­ren use a rat­tan lad­der in May to scale the 800-me­ter cliff to reach home. The chil­dren, who at­tend a board­ing school, make the climb to and from their homes ev­ery two weeks.

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