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Sun, Jun 04, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Consensus reached for school reconstruction work

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

The school reconstruction task force formed by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and local governments has reached an initial blueprint concerning how to proceed with reconstruction projects for schools damaged in the 921 earthquake, Vice Minister of Education Fan Sun-lu (范巽綠) said yesterday.

"Communication between the central and local governments is indispensable to facilitate the reconstruction projects. This is why we went to visit the quake-stricken regions once the task force was established," Fan said.

"Only through constant contact with local officials can we be updated with their real reconstruction needs," she said.

Fan last week traveled to five quake-hit counties, along with Minister of Education Ovid Tzeng (曾志朗) and said she was pleased that the MOE and local officials had reached a basic consensus regarding how to undertake reconstruction work.

Since Tzeng took office, he has repeatedly said that reconstruction of schools in quake-hit areas will be the top priority of his administration.

Recent reports said the MOE had previously suggested entrusting reconstruction projects to four professional construction management (PCM) companies, because the scope and complexity of the task preclude the ministry's ability to properly monitor the job.

PCMs are expected to apply improved management techniques in the planning, design and implementation of the reconstruction plan, saving costs and ensuring higher quality.

However, local government officials and local school authorities have raised concerns about how to choose quality PCMs and whether the companies selected will monopolize the reconstruction projects. Questions have also been raised as to whether the MOE will be able to fulfill its supervisory role in the projects.

Fan dismissed such worries, saying "PCMs merely assist in picking qualified architects, handling the bidding process for the contractors, and providing professional counsel on the bidding documents and operational measures. City governments and the school authorities are still in complete charge of the whole bidding process. Therefore, there should be no concerns about the PCMs monopolizing the process," added Fan.

According to the latest reports, 45 out of the total 174 schools in need of reconstruction decided to carry out their own renovations and rebuilding. The estimated reconstruction costs for these schools is about NT$610 million.

The remaining 129 schools are willing to receive assistance from PCMs, which have been allotted a budget of approximately NT$4.8 billion.

So far, Ya-hsin Company (亞新公司) is the only PCM chosen. The company will take charge of the reconstruction of 37 schools. The next primary duty for the MOE is to select three more PCMs to aid the remaining 92 schools.

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