Road cleaners in China are being measured by a new and unusual method.
City inspectors have started weighing dirt found on the street, in order to determine how good a job the cleaners are doing.
The exercise started on Wednesday in Xi’an, the capital of the Shaanxi province. Inspectors draw out a random square meter on the street, and sweep up the dust within, placing it on a weighing scale.
Streets which exceed 5 grams of dust per square meter will count as a strike against its cleaner. Three strikes gets the cleaner fired, and their supervisors will face disciplinary action too, reported the state-run People’s Daily.
A 62-year-old cleaner, Wang Guanhai, told China News Service that he’s started having to work overtime in order to meet the cleanliness standards.
He said he works from 4 a.m. to 6 p.m., and cleans the roads under his charge four to five times daily.
Besides Shaanxi, other large provinces such as Shandong, Hebei and Zhongwei are about to begin similar spot checks.
The new rules have drawn criticism from netizens, many of whom say it’s unfair to the cleaners. Some have pointed out that with the air pollution problem unsolved, it’s a Sisyphean task for cleaners to prevent dust from collecting on streets.
On Thursday afternoon, the air pollution level in Xi’an was 159 — unhealthy on the AQI scale.
One Weibo user said: “Are you trying to kill the sanitation workers? The air is full of dust, so they’ll never be able to keep the roads entirely dust-free.”
“Don’t you think the dust on the road is because of the dust in the air? You’re throwing the sanitation workers under the bus,” said another.
A disgruntled user expressed sympathy for the street cleaners: “The government must have run out of new rules to put in, so it’s just giving people more work to do.”