Ghost Towns


Occasionally on the news, we read stories about how in some countries like China where the economy has suddenly boomed, there are areas called ghost towns. These are vast areas where buildings have been planned, built and erected but not a single person lives in them. They are utterly deserted, as if they are contaminated with the renmants of a nuclear blast.

However, there are areas like this which are being made over the world, intentionallly. Look at sporting events such as the Olympics, Paralympics or the football World Cup; events which spark tremendous interest as people flock in their thousands to the host country.

That of course is exactly where the problem lies, the host country builds great infrastructure to cater for the infulx of visitors who will flood the area in staggering numbers but once the event is over, the tide recedes. It can be as sudden as turning the light off in a room.

These thoughts were sparked as the bus I was travelling on drove through the ‘Olympic City’ in Stratford, London. Huge expanses of land, wide roads and pavements as well as great bus stations and and an international train station; all utterly deserted. I could not help but feel that the money spent on the Olympics had been a huge waste. The wide, bare and open land is shocking when you think about the thousands living in London who are desperately seeking homes to live in. Surely, this land could now be utilised to build affordable housing?

In all honesty, these events that are fought over only benefit the elite of the host country. Look at Brazil, the people have taken up the slogan “a cup for whom?” These events are definitely not the boosts to the economy that they are promoted as being. They merely create a short boom which often results in a big bust.

Another example is Qatar which is in the process of building stadiums for the 2022 world cup. Despite their vast wealth, it is difficult to see these stadiums being of any use onece the world cup is over. It is mind-boggling to be told of the billions that are spent on these events whilst millions of people seek shelter and are in desperate need of help.

So whilst we stare in awe at the vast building, stadiums and amazing sights, we must think about whether these things have actually benefitted the people living there and whether more can be done to help the local community.

Until Next Time

A Worried Student

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16 thoughts on “Ghost Towns

  1. I think most of the venues after the Olympics get used to help out that country’s athletes. I traveled to Greece after the Athens Olympics and it was far from a ghost town. There is some serious overs spending on big events I agree but usually it does benefit someone.

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    • Definitely. The actual venues may be used but the surrounding areas are extremely quiet. For example in London, they have made a public swimming pool but if you travel down the road, it is absolutely deserted.
      The benefits are there but there can certainly be more, especially once the events are complete. The problem is worse in London as there is very little free land anymore.

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  2. It’s easy to see the short term benefits of massive projects while ignoring the long term costs. I’m glad you’re discussing these issues.

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  3. Yes, I’ve heard about the China “ghost towns.” People buy houses, speculating that there’ll be a real estate boom, and others will flock to these areas… Then they don’t, and the buildings stand empty, while nearby town residents are desperate for housing. Often, the local folk had their modest houses bulldozed to make way for the new buildings…

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  4. Yes, community development and cohesion is important. Doing to the populace, instead of including them in the process is highly detrimental. It creates deprivation pockets. I worked for a few years with development projects in Wales and England, and although there is wastage of resources and inter-politics, such projects often deliver more than those in National Government ever could. For me, it was real politics on a grass-root level.

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