Sun, Apr 07, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Construction workers plan AIT protest

DISPUTE:Local subcontractors have claimed that they have not received payment for work done at the AIT’s new compound and have threatened to indefinitely halt the construction

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

The site of the new American Institute in Taiwan building in Taipei’s Neihu District is pictured yesterday.

Photo: Lo Tien-pin, Taipei Times

Local subcontractors plan to stage a protest tomorrow against a US-based construction company over delays in payment in the years-long dispute over the construction of the American Institute in Taiwan’s (AIT) new office in Taipei.

If the AIT continues to avoid the issue, the construction will be halted indefinitely, Tu Chung-jen (涂崇仁) of the Wei Chuan Arch Contracting Co (偉銓營造) was quoted by the Chinese-language United Daily Evening News as saying yesterday.

According to the report, Weston Solutions, which won the contract for the AIT’s new compound in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖) with the US Department of State in 2009, has defaulted on payments of NT$474.83 million (US$15.82 million) which were owed to three local firms.

Weston Solutions allegedly owes Wei Chuan Arch NT$150.61 million, AREA energy Inc (鋐原能源) NT$213 million and another construction company NT$110.2 million.

In December 2011, Wei Chuan Arch accused the US contractor of failing to abide by the terms of the contract signed between them in May that year. Wei Chuan Arch accused the contractor of delaying payments and paying local construction workers less than promised.

Wei Chuan Arch said Weston Solutions unilaterally changed the terms of the contract.

Tu was quoted as saying that the subcontractors have sent several letters to the AIT to seek help in the negotiations with the US contractor, but have received no response.

The delay in payments from Weston Solutions has forced the subcontractors to furlough workers and lay off employees, the United Daily Evening News said.

AIT spokesperson Sheila Paskman said yesterday that the dispute is an issue between Weston Solutions and its subcontractors, and “so it’s for them to resolve.”

“However, the new office building reflects the importance of our relationships with Taiwan, so we will follow this issue closely and hope for an amicable resolution,” Paskman said.

The AIT rented the 6.5 hectare site in Neihu from the Taipei City Government for 99 years in 2004, and the construction was set to be completed in 2015.

According to the AIT, the total cost of the new compound will be more than US$170 million.

Weston Solutions was allocated US$54.4 million for the first phase of construction, including site clearing and grading and the construction of perimeter security systems, vehicular and pedestrian access control facilities, quarters for security personnel, maintenance buildings and parking areas.

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