Tue, Nov 18, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Dangers lurk in mall, councilor says

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Blocked emergency exits and large crowds make the newly opened Taipei 101 Mall a dangerous place to shop, a Taipei City councilor said yesterday.

"Although the city government promised to provide citizens a `comfortable, safe and legal' shopping surrounding, we found that high risks lurk in the so-called world's tallest building," Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) City Councilor Lai Shu-ju (賴素如) said during yesterday's interpellation session of the city council.

According to her investigation, Lai said, many emergency exits in the shopping mall were obstructed by miscellaneous articles, which has jeopardized consumers' safety.

"The lessons of the blaze at Taipei County's Louchou this August seem forgotten," Lai said.

Lai said the Bureau of Transportation failed to control the number of shoppers in the mall.

"The officials only stopped shoppers from entering the mall for one minute and then allowed them to go inside the building immediately," Lai said. "They were not able to handle the number of the people who were in the building effectively."

Lai said many shoppers even trespassed onto the skyscraper's construction site.

She accused the city government of sacrificing public safety to allow an unfinished building to start its business.

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said the opening of the mall did not violate construction laws.

"As for the safety issues, I will order the related bureaus to improve as soon as possible," Ma said.

Lai said Jason's Market, the supermarket on B1 of the mall, has violated the business law.

"The mall did not register the supermarket as one of its business sections, but the city government should allow them to run their business," Lai said.

Ma said the city fined the supermarket NT$90,000 last weekend and will not rule out forcing the store out of business.

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