Fri, Aug 27, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Officials blame contractors for Sanchung flooding

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The fracture in the MRT drainage channel near the Tungan pumping station is pictured yesterday.

PHOTO: LIU HSIN-TE, TAIPEI TIMES

Taipei City Government's Depart-ment of Rapid Transit Systems yesterday alleged that MRT contractors did not adequately install an underground conduit box -- which functions as a drain for the Sanchung City MRT construction site -- thus causing Sanchung to be hit by a overpowering volume of floodwater.

Chang Chi-teh (常岐德), director of the city's Department of Rapid Transit Systems, yesterday examined the broken conduit box, located near the Tung-an pumping station, along with officials of the Water Resources Agency, Taipei County officials and construction experts.

Following his inspection, Chang held a news conference to explain the cause of the flooding.

According to Chang, the temporary bulkhead of the conduit box constructed by the department could not resist the pressure exerted by the water, which burst through and flowed back into Sanchung City.

The officials and experts found that the MRT contractors had not adhered to the construction blueprint when they were building the bulkhead, a temporary retaining wall to keep water out, and that this was the major reason why the conduit box broke, Chang said.

According to James Yu (余烈), chairman of the Taiwan Professional Civil Engineers Association, who was a member of the team investigating the flooding, the divers who swam into the broken conduit box found that the bulkhead had been breached by the water pressure, which smashed it to pieces.

Chang apologized for the construction failure at the MRT site, saying that he and Su Ting-fu (蘇丁福), section chief of the MRT's northern construction site, have submitted their resignation to Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

"We feel terribly sorry for all the residents of Sanchung and are willing to accept all responsibility," Chang said.

He said that the department asked the three contractors working on the MRT to shoulder responsibility for the shoddy construction work and share the cost of compensation claims.

The contractors are the RSEA Engineering Corporation, Hwang Chang General Contractor Corporation and the Kajima Corporation from Japan.

Ma apologized to Sanchung residents at a news conference yesterday afternoon.

He said he had received Chang's and Su's resignations, but would not dismiss them.

"Currently the most important task for the city government is to deal with the incident, not to blame the culprits," Ma said.

Meanwhile, after inspecting the damage and losses suffered by the residents of Sanchung City, deputy commissioner of Taipei County Lin Hsi-yao (林錫耀) yesterday called on Ma to demonstrate the city's sincerity by negotiating with Sanchung City about compensation to victims of the flooding.

Lin also urged Ma not to use the national compensation procedure, since this would take too long.

"This is a critical issue as far as national compensation is concerned, since it is the first time that so many households have been affected," Lin said.

"We've helped Sanchung residents to prepare their applications for the national compensation procedure, but we hope Ma will take the initiative to talk to us about the reparations, " Lin said.

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