Feeding the workers

The business of construction involves more than labor and machinery. It often extends to an integrated supply chain of services solely aimed at addressing the daily needs of the construction worker. Street hawkers are one obvious example.

Most street hawkers are mobile for the very reason that they often lack permits to do what they do and business is largely dictated by the ebbs and flows of the construction work day. Hence, they would appear at regimented times unless deterred by police patrols which have stepped up as the Expo nears.

Every day, mobile food hawkers gather outside construction sites all over Shanghai to feed the armies of workers at the break of dawn and return at lunch to do the same.

Like construction workers in Shanghai, mobile street hawkers tend to be poorer migrant labor also from outside of the city.

They are often seen pushing, on foot or bicycling, huge wooden carts containing their portable stoves and cooking paraphernalia. The assembly process is deft and practised. Heat up the vat of oil or hot plate and lay out base foods and an array of condiments.

For the street hawker, the business day starts painfully early and if they take on the late night snack shift, the hours tend to blur together.

October 2009


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