HEFEI, May 6 (Xinhua) -- As various pieces of engineering machinery rumbled on a construction site along the Yangtze River, a cross-river tunnel in the city of Wuhu, east China's Anhui Province, was under construction.
The tunnel, with an investment of 5.4 billion yuan (about 762.6 million U.S. dollars), will be the first cross-river tunnel in Anhui Province. Since it resumed operation on April 15 as the epidemic wanes, some eight big excavators have been steadily rolling through the site.
As the novel coronavirus has been largely contained in China and the production resumption of companies and factories accelerated, the demand for excavators rose substantially in March, said the China Construction Machinery Association.
Data from the association showed that excavator sales, an important indicator of infrastructure development, hit a record high of 46,610 in March, up 11.2 percent year on year.
Sun Binbin, a sales manager of a company selling engineering machinery in Wuhu has seen a rise in sales in the first quarter.
According to Sun, the sales of excavators produced by the leading construction gear maker Sany Heavy Industry Co., Ltd. in his company hit 50 in the first three months, an increase of more than 20 percent over the previous year.
"It costs about 700,000 yuan to buy a big excavator while most customers are still willing to purchase it even with a mortgage as they are positive about the infrastructure construction this year," said Sun, adding that excavator drivers have also become sought-after, with their salary reaching over 10,000 yuan per month.
In Sun's view, the accelerating work resumption of large-scale engineering projects just like the cross-river tunnel in Wuhu is an important factor contributing to the soaring excavator sales.
Xiang Wenbo, president of Sany Heavy Industry Co., Ltd. said that the infrastructure construction around the country is speeding up the recovery as the excavator operation rate nationwide reached 58.36 percent on April 16 while that of east China's Zhejiang Province and Anhui Province were both up to 69 percent.
Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics showed that a total of 11,998 new projects were launched in March, increasing by 9,497 from the first two months.
On the same day when the construction on the tunnel in Wuhu resumed, 270 major projects involving vehicles, intelligent manufacturing and new energy kicked off in Anhui, with an investment totaling 152.34 billion yuan.
As workers get back to construction sites and government bond issuance accelerates, infrastructure investments will return to growth by the end of the second quarter, said Li Chao, an analyst with Zheshang Securities, predicting that infrastructure investments will grow by 10 to 15 percent this year.
Except for major construction projects, the recovery of new rural construction and some municipal engineering has driven the popularity of small excavators.
Figures from the China Construction Machinery Association showed that the sales of small excavators in March reached 31,616, up 18.49 percent compared with the previous year, accounting for over 90 percent of the total sales.
"There are more than 10 small excavators on this construction site as more people are willing to purchase and learn how to drive small ones," said Liu Yong, an excavator driver working in a scenic renovation project in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, for over 10 days.
"We expect to have more work this year after finishing this project," he added. Enditem