Wed, Sep 01, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Officials squabble over breach in wall

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei City Government officials yesterday said that the Department of Rapid Transit Systems had not avoided responsibility for the flooding of Sanchung in a preliminary report released on Monday, saying the department was just providing facts to the investigation team.

On Monday, the Taiwan Professional Civil Engineers Association invited officials from the Taipei County Government, the central government's Water Resources Agency and three contractors in charge of construction of the MRT in Sanchung to a meeting to discuss what caused a retaining wall to break.

MRT general engineer Chu Hsu (朱旭) argued that the retaining wall beside the MRT construction site should have been able to resist the high pressure exerted by the floodwater, adding that two large rocks were chiefly responsible for the breach.

In so doing, he suggested that the flood should not be attributed to negligence in construction but rather be considered a natural disaster that could not have been predicted or prepared for.

Taipei County Deputy Commissioner Wu Zei-cheng (吳澤成) disagreed, saying that the department had not accounted for its mistakes and was trying to find excuses to cover them up.

Department of Rapid Transit Systems director Chang Chi-teh (常岐德) then held a news conference where he withdrew Chu's remarks and said that the department was merely presenting facts to the investigation team, and that it was not attempting to pass on responsibility to others.

"We just provided evidence and a summary of the facts that we found at the scene. We saw two huge rocks in the rubble and we didn't think that there was a possibility that rocks would breach the retaining wall," Chang said.

Chang said that the department will respect the final report to be issued tomorrow.

Meanwhile, in response to Sanchung City Mayor Lee Chien-lung's (李乾龍) complaint that compensation of NT$5,000 for each flooded household was too low, Taipei City Government spokesman Jack Yu (游梓翔) said that the amount would be increased to between NT$10,000 and NT$15,000 each and will be distributed from tomorrow.

After the weekly city government meeting yesterday, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) declined to answer questions about the flooding of Sanchung, but said that everything would be cleared up in the final report.

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