Planet China

Lights out

Driving in a Chinese city is chaotic enough at the best of times. So imagine what happens when the traffic lights get turned off? This is what happened recently in the city of Liuzhou in Guangxi after an altercation occurred between local police and an employee of the local electric utility.

Furious that traffic cops had stopped the truck of a colleague and confiscated his licence, the utility staffer swore revenge.

Claiming to be a boss at the local power supply bureau he warned: “If you do not give back the licence, you will see a blackout!”

He was as good as his word. A few minutes after police had refused to back down, city traffic lights suddenly lost power. Cue 20 minutes of gridlock, horns and hysteria until “communication between the traffic police and the municipal power supply department” saw the lights restored, says Xinhua. Sadly state media does not add whether the colleague’s licence was restored as part of the deal (still less, if the irate employee kept his job).

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