Sat, Jan 24, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Gondola pillar to be relocated, officials probed

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei City Government yesterday announced it will relocate the Maokong Gondola system’s damaged support pillar and reported 11 city government officials and two contracting companies to the Control Yuan and the Taipei Prosecutors’ Office for further investigation into possible dereliction of their responsibilities.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) bowed and apologized to the public for the problematic system, but declined to comment on whether or not President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), the former Taipei mayor, should take some of the responsibility.

“I should take political responsibility for administrative negligence and I need to apologize to Taipei residents. I am sorry,” Hau said yesterday during a press conference at Taipei City Hall.

When asked by reporters whether or not former mayor Ma should also be held responsible, Hau refused to comment.

“I cannot answer that question for him,” Hau said.

The damaged support pillar, also known as Tower No. 16, will be relocated about 30m closer to Tower No. 17. The relocation project will be completed in about 11 months and will cost NT$21 million (US$620,000). The system could resume operations as early as the end of the year, Hau said.

The evaluation report was completed last month and it suggested that the city government relocate the damaged pillar. The city government had also completed a geology evaluation of the other 24 support pillars and installed monitoring devices under each to check on their stability, he said.

The city government yesterday also made public a report conducted by Taipei City Government’s Department of Government Ethics, which held 11 officials responsible for administrative negligence during the planning, construction and testing stages of the project.

With the exception of Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner Lin Li-yu (林麗玉) and New Public Works Office Deputy Director Lin Chin-fan (林慶釩), no senior officials were mentioned in the report.

The report also blamed two contractors, CECI Engineering Consultants Inc and Chun Yuan Construction Co, for failing to complete geological drilling tests in accordance with the project plans.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors slammed the Government Ethics Department for sheltering Ma, Hau and other senior officials from responsibility.

“The report blamed all the problems on junior officials. Shouldn’t the decision-makers and supervising departments, including Ma, take full responsibility for starting the project?” DPP Taipei City Councilor Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄) said after reading the report.

In response, Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said the decision to build the gondola had been the correct one, as it had attracted more than 5 million visitors.

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