Thu, May 30, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Yu angered at progress of dredging

IRRESPONSIBLE The premier lost his temper yesterday after hearing that dredging along the Keelung River has been postponed until June, bringing the danger of rainy-season flooding

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Yu Shyi-kun showed his anger yesterday over the slow progress of dredging along the Keelung River, fearing potential flooding as the rainy season approaches.

"I'm very unhappy with the rate of progress of the dredging project," Yu told Cabinet officials during their weekly closed-door meeting yesterday morning. "I hope nothing unfortunate happens because if it does, I will deal with whoever is responsible."

There was no word, however, as to why the process is going so slowly.

Yu had originally planned to witness the completion of the dredging project at the end of this month, but he was told yesterday that the project has been postponed until the end of July.

"I don't know how to tell the public about how we've been handling this matter," Yu said.

He made the remark after listening to a briefing by the Water Resources Agency under the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Yu also expressed his concern over water and soil conservation projects near Yeishishanko upstream on the Keelung River.

"I hope that the economic ministry invites related officials from the Taipei County Government and the Taipei City Government to inspect the area on a regular basis," Yu said.

The Keelung River, which winds its way through Keelung City, Taipei City and Taipei County is under the jurisdiction of both the central government and the Taipei City Government.

While the central government is in charge of dredging and conservation projects on the river between Keelung City and Taipei County, the Taipei City government is responsible for the part running through Taipei.

The river has long been plagued by flooding during the rainy season.

According to Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥), vice chairwoman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development, what causes the flooding of the Keelung River is mainly its narrowing from 400m to 100m near Yuanshan in Taipei City's Shihlin District.

"We're thinking of building a water tunnel to divert water and demolishing some of the bridges because their buttresses may hamper the flow of water and cause flooding," Ho said.

A tunnel is estimated to cost NT$2 billion and the Ministry of Economics is studying the feasibility of the project.

Another reason for the flooding, Ho said, is silt.

"The Cabinet has spent about NT$12 billion on the first-phase of the dredging project to dig out over 3.6 million3m of silt," Ho said.

The efforts, however, were devastated by Typhoon Nari last year and Typhoon Xangsane in 2000.

The Cabinet earmarked NT$33 billion this year, with the hope of clearing 972,0003m more of silt.

The NT$33 billion project, however, does not cover the part of the river located in Taipei City.

"In compliance with the well-established tradition, I'm afraid the city is on its own on itys stretch of the river," Ho said.

During the meeting, the city asked the Cabinet to contribute NT$1.9 billion to its dredging project and the construction of levees along tributaries of the river.

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