Wuhan - Jokes about “enjoying the sea view at Wuhan!” have gone viral on social media after heavy rain turned streets in the inland Chinese city into impassable waterways.
“Riding a bus and a boat at the same time,” one WeChat user wrote, alongside a picture of passengers holding onto each other on a flooded bus.
Other wits warned short people not to venture onto the streets because the water would be above head-height for them.
Jokes aside, many have questioned the poor drainage system and water management. Weibo users have drawn a parallel with the tragedy that occurred two years in Beijing, when dozens of people died trapped in their cars by floodwater.
On Thursday, Wuhan newspapers and social media detailed “better drain network design and capacity in Western developed countries like Berlin and Paris”.
Officials with Wuhan’s water management bureau noted high precipitation - an average of 100mm in downtown areas and the heaviest since 1998 - but also admitted that poor sewer systems were to blame.
“Protracted heavy rain on Wednesday caused small puddles to grow, and sewerage is poor in the outskirts. Even in Hankou District, central Wuhan, where sewerage is better, the pipes are not up to carrying the water,” said Zhang Fei, deputy director of the water management bureau.
The problems were caused by excessive garbage in the city’s sewers and bad connections between the outdated underground pipes, he said.
A city along the Yangtze River, Wuhan, like many other riverbank cities, is routinely hammered by summertime rain. Puddles and floods are a summer nuisance.
In 2013, Zuo Shaobin, head of the Wuhan water management bureau, received a pair of water-resistant boots from a man whose apartment building was flooded for over two weeks.
In 2013, the city earmarked 13 billion yuan (about 2.13 billion US dollars) to address flood woes from 2013 to 2016.
In April, Wuhan received 1.5 billion yuan from the central government’s “Sponge City” project targeting 16 soggy cities across China.
The fund is used for improving drains, installing pumps, building gardens to soak up raindrops, and cover streets with permeable driveways.
This year, Wuhan plans to install 100km of new pipelines and to clear garbage from 2 500km of pipes.
Mayor Wan Yong cracked the whip.
“This issue cannot wait. It must be taken care of right away,” Wa said.