Sat, Jul 06, 2002 - Page 10 News List

Construction to restart on Taipei 101

BACK IN BUSINESSThe Taipei Financial Center Corp received city permission to continue construction as of Wednesday on the upper reaches of what is slated to be Taiwan's -- and the world's -- tallest building

By Richard Dobson  /  STAFF REPORTER

Workers erect a portion of the exterior curtain wall of Taipei 101 -- formerly known as the Taipei Financial Center -- in Taipei's Hsinyi District yesterday, after receiving permission to resume construction.

PHOTO: TAIPEI 101

The Taipei City Government has approved the resumption of construction on Taipei 101 -- formerly known as the Taipei Financial Center -- over three months after a powerful earthquake detached two tower cranes from their mounts, causing them to hurtle to the ground killing five people.

The Bureau of Labor Affairs and the Public Works Department of the city government issued the notice, permitting full resumption of construction on all floors on June 28 and July 3, respectively.

Permission to resume building on floors from B5 to 23 was granted on May 15, although building restrictions have reportedly cost the company NT$800 million, which are expenses related to workers' wages, insurance premiums and other costs associated with keeping the project going. The figure does not include the cost of reparing the damage caused by the quake.

Construction was halted on March 31 when the earthquake, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, sent the two cranes perched on the 56th floor plummeting to earth.

According to Terry Shen (沈雲飛), vice president of the tower's builder -- the Taipei Financial Center Corp (台北金融大樓公司) -- two new cranes are being built in a joint venture between Japan's Nippon Steel and Taiwan's China Steel Corp (中鋼).

The new cranes, which will replace toppled cranes No. 2 and No. 4, will have specially reinforced masts that will be able to withstand strong quakes like the one on March 31, Shen said.

Shen said that the new cranes will have special pin-strengthened masts which are the same as those used in cranes in No. 1 and No. 3 -- which stayed in position during the earthquake.

"The pin-system is much stronger, as was seen during the quake when the other cranes didn't fall," Shen said.

Three months of waiting

*Relevant agencies of the Taipei City Government gave their approval, effective Wednesday, July 3, for building on the upper floors to restart, after an earth-quake in March halted the project.

* The Taipei Financial Center Corp says it lost NT$800 million because of the halt in construction, related to workers' wages, insurance premiums and other costs.

* New cranes with special `pin-strengthened masts' are now being built to replace those that fell to the ground.


The differences between the four cranes don't stop there. Cranes No. 1 and No. 3 were virtually custom-made for use on the project, while cranes No. 2 and No. 4 had already been used previously in Hong Kong, Shen said.

"The parts and elements are expected to arrive in mid-August and installation will begin in September. There will therefore be no significant progress on the steel structure above the 56th floor until September," according to a company statement.

The city government is currently examining reports submitted by Taipei Financial's main contractor, KTRT, on what caused the crane masts to fail during the temblor. KTRT is formed by Kumagai Gumi, Taiwan Kumagai, RSEA Engineering Corporation (榮民工程公司) and Ta You Wei (大友為).

The report also includes a study of the accident and the safety of the building structure by the Taipei Structural Engineers Association and of tower crane enhancement, conducted by National Taiwan University's Center of Earthquake Engineering Research (CEER).

No decision has been made on whether professional misconduct or criminal negligence were factors in the tragedy.

Taipei 101 is scheduled for completion by 2004.

The biggest single shareholder in what is to be world's tallest building is China United Trust & Investment Corp (中聯信託) -- which has a 20 percent stake. The next leading shareholder is the China Development Industrial Bank (中華開發銀行). The most important anchor tenant of the facility will be the Taiwan Stock Exchange (證交所), which will occupy about seven floors in the building, or about 6,000 pings.

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