Tue, Mar 11, 2003 - Page 2 News List

THSRC rejects lawmaker's claims

CONSTRUCTION QUALITY Officials said Alex Tsai's claims that the corporation is allowing shoddy materials to be used is false and that its top priority remains safety

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) yesterday rejected KMT Legislator Alex Tsai's (蔡正元) accusations that it has allowed its contractors to use inferior materials for pillars supporting the railway's elevated track.

"Tsai's accusation has severely damaged the reputation of the top international contractors responsible for the railway's construc-tion," THSRC president George Liu (劉國治) said yesterday at a news conference.

"The contractors will be clarifying the accusation and taking the necessary steps to recover their damaged reputations," he said.

Contractors from Japan, South Korea and Thailand have said that they will send high-ranking officials to Taipei to investigate the accusations, Liu said.

At a press conference he held on Saturday, Tsai displayed a number of photos showing many cracks on the pillars in three sections of the railway's Tainan and Kaohsiung areas -- sections C280, C291 and C295. He claimed that there were cracks on more than 100 of the pillars.

Liu said although THSRC issued a statement on Saturday rebutting Tsai's claims, the lawmaker reiterated his accusations yesterday on a radio program.

"In order to prevent any misunderstanding, THSRC wants to emphasize that safety is its priority in building the railway," Liu said.

According to Liu, the construction flaws Tsai highlighted are old problems that have either been corrected or are in the process of being fixed.

He said the flaws occurred before the corporation carried out its quality-assurance plans at the construction sites.

At its press conference THSRC officials distributed photocopies of portions of a non-conformance report which stated that 2,298 defects had been found in section C280, 1,597 defects in section C291 and 414 defects in section C295.

The report went on to state that 1,859 defects in section C280 have been corrected, 1,571 were fixed in section C291 and 376 defects have been fixed in section C295.

According to the report, contractors are dealing with the remaining defects.

Photocopies of another THSRC report were also distributed to reporters which noted that "In construction there are always problems. No job is ever constructed without some defects ? All defects have either been corrected or are in the process of being corrected."

THSRC's spokesman Edward Lin (林天送) drew reporters attention to Tsai's allegation that the portions of the high-speed railway being built by foreign contractors are better constructed than the sections done by domestic contractors, who are also the corporation's shareholders.

However, Lin did not expand on his remark.

Liu also rejected Tsai's claim that he has been in touch with THSRC officials since last December to discuss the construction problems.

Liu said the lawmaker had only wanted to discuss the railway's cable troughs.

"The cable troughs are totally irrelevant to the construction defects alleged by Tsai," he said.

Arthur Chiang (江金山), vice president of THSRC's Public Affairs Division, told reporters that Tsai has been very keen to find out how the cables to be placed in the cable troughs will be installed.

"Since last December Tsai has sent seven letters to the Bureau of Taiwan High Speed Rail [BOTHSR] asking for details of the design of the railway's cable troughs," Chiang said.

The lawmaker has also asked for three meetings with BOTHSR to discuss the cable troughs, Chiang said.

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