By Chandra Jayaratne –
A First Hand Account Case Study of How Wuhan Successfully Maintained It’s Social Infrastructure During the 2 Month Lockdown Over the Covid-19 Crisis
Wuhan is the capital city of Central China’s Hubei Province, with a population of 11 million people; divided in to 15 Districts and further sub-divided in to 178 Sub Districts referred to as Streets; which house 1400 community Complexes. The more rural areas of the city have 1900 cluster villages. The City has a very efficient and effective governance structure; supported by committed, capable and productive state sector officials, all of whom were leveraged in effectively in maintaining the social infrastructure at optimum service effectiveness during the Covid crisis. The city in addition, hosts 7100 independent Residential Compounds, with their own Management Teams for assuring optimum property management services to the apartment households within each compound; with these services being organized by independent commercial service companies operated for profit, deploying highly efficient and committed staff: and levying management fees; these units are self-contained; including recreation, parks and shopping options and all other amenities and services. Wuhan city is run by state officials in a management structure designed to support each district operating like a municipality and the street sub districts, in lauding rural villages. operating as as local government admin units; whereas the Residential Compounds operate under private management. Network co-ordination with inter linked network systems and communicating links were brought in to operation to assure the required transparent and seamless network linked governance during the crisis; thereby assuring logistics and services co-ordination operating with perfect harmony.
The lock down was effectively managed leveraging the state staff and property management staff, along with law enforcement; all of whom were collectively made accountable for effective lock down maintenance and as well as assuring all household requirement facilitation during the period; whilst ensuring strict compliance with set health care guidelines and regulatory regime. The 500,000 district staff were relieved of all routine work and deployed and engaged efficiently and effectively by District Leaders and Street Leaders; and efficient and effective systems of administration and support infrastructure were leveraged with required change/adaptation; whilst promoting creative and innovative risk management and overcoming all present day challenges. There were many additional commitments willingly undertaken by the state staff during the crisis period. As far as Residential Compounds were concerned additional surcharge fees were levied on households and the property management teams delivered at an optimum the services required.
The City borders were sealed off and the state provided all assistance and incentives (eg. for increased costs by allowing higher charges to be levied by providers), especially where the need to promote assure self-sufficiency was an imperative within the capabilities of the in city production / agriculture and services centers. These centers were required, whilst continuing to optimize the existing capacity to seek additional enhancements, (whilst increasing growth options of the future) to establish new supply chain networks to meet any current supply shortfalls. All of which were created within days of initial signal.
Personnel required to work on state services or at private enterprises in support of supplies assurance were given incentives to remain within the production centers and operational sites during the period, whilst adhering with all necessary precautions and health care support requirements; and leveraging transport and lodging facilities etc. organized for all essential service providers in close proximity. ICT services were extensively used in this effort, especially in managing supply chains and logistics.
The key to the effectiveness of the lock down of residents was the efficiency and effectiveness of the distribution chain of food, essentials and medicines to be provided to all locked down households. Here many concurrently operated strategies were adopted including the following, which collectively supported the total needs of the locked down communities:
1. Distribution supporting Residential Compounds; whose residents under normal circumstances mostly used the bigger privately owned supermarket chains of the city, despite each compound having a small family operated privately owned supermarket within the compound. Here these in-house supermarkets were selected as the key supply chain distributor and were given an incentive of higher pricing (an average premium surcharge of 30% over normal pricing) for locked down services . Residents were requested to phone/ text / email orders as required to the In-house supermarket and the completed order were delivered and placed in front of the apartment; with no personal contact and settled by on-line banking based transfers. With the smaller in-house stores earning higher premiums, made the service with high efficiency attractive and earned a lager profit than usual. Where special items were to be ordered from specialist stores or outside supermarkets these were sent via internet and pre settled and delivered via designated volunteer couriers or via the property management, who broke bulk, sorted, packed and delivered orders by placing items in front of doors, all at a marginal extra charge. The property management even acted as placers and handlers of bulk orders for fish, meat, eggs and specialist supplies dependent on residential community needs.
2. District level, street and village level supply logistics followed a similar pattern and was administered and handled by the state staff, assisted by volunteers operating from homes and handling supply chain and transfer logistics. Supplies when received in central stores, bulk breaking, sorting and packaging were undertaken. Private businesses released 200 refer trucks to support distribution of perishables and had the support of equal number of volunteers to facilitate distribution, targeting distribution via option points at each micro level distribution targets. Here too all due settlements were made via mobile devices and credited to the central collector who settled suppliers of bulk. Here again all direct costs were recovered via sales and supplies.
3. A central donation fund was set up to which the central and state governments, businesses and individuals contributed and these funds covered the costs of and dues for supplies waived from those over 55, sick, marginalized, those without permanent incomes or those who temporarily lost jobs and livelihoods. These persons were provided essential basket of gods for daily sustenance of the family and self.
4. Central government and state governments purchased all perishable goods of farmers and producers and these were distributed to all those referred to in 3above, ensuring that in addition to basic essentials the protein requirements for good health was also distributed in the form of perishable vegetables, fish, meat and eggs to the targeted households
5. In addition a central and state government promoted suppliers, businesses, wealthy individuals, international and local support NGO’s and Non Resident Chinese via effective communications and ICT networks to volunteer financial support and providing relief packages to marginalized, sick and temporarily laid off workers , temporarily adopting them as their foster care givers and also provide psycho social network support until normalcy
6. The state did not impose any rationing as sufficient supplies were available from in city productions and supplies from other provinces and in any event households did not resort to excessive purchases having full reliance on the assurance of continuity of supplies
7. The state had in place before the crisis, efficient and effective private commercial and state offered internet and media services. The use of these services significantly expanded and they quickly adapted to meet the peak demands. In addition the state used these services very effectively with innovative pleasing and appealing content to meet all needs of the locked down families in Many areas including:
– awareness building re crisis
– communicating and promoting effective social distancing and adoption of best health care practices
– updating the crisis related news and maintains positive mind set in the community with continuing commitment and determination to win the Covid battle
– ability to engage all ages of residents re their educational, exercise, relaxation recreation and creativity and innovation options including promoting production and design of content for broadcast
Therefore the lockdown extending to parks, recreation and exercise centers being closed down and being in a confined space related stress was effectively managed
8. State maintained electricity, gas and water supplies without disruption. There were no issues with water supplies in any event; however electricity and gas supplies maintenance were stretched services. Sanitation and garbage collections caused the most stress, as state and property managers had to curtail services and manage it to new rules on limited days etc.; the providers and property managers had to extend extra effort in the face of capacity restrictions
9. City leadership with significant support from the central government took several strategic initiatives to help entrepreneurs and businesses extending support to maintain existing supply chains, strive to reach self-sufficiency with extra effort and productivity enhancements; and for this extended support included profitable margins, mobilizing required expertise and required additional labour, capacity expansion with technology and best practice support and advise and incentivizing innovation and offering additional incentive options for reaching self-sufficiency in basic food and essential goods and services; all this whilst expanding the health care needs with high quality but temporary facilities to be up and running within the shortest possible time
10. In making a comparisons of above it is essential that the effective and efficient social infrastructure maintenance during the crisis was duly supported by the traditional Chinese culture, natural drive and commitment, commitment to productivity, resilience, compliance, sacrifice, oneness, being command compliant driven to the dot and strive to win at all costs; despite all challenges and personal restrictions. These personal characteristics and, values and attitudes being natural and normal day to day occurrence within the highly efficient and effective existing systems and structures.