Sat, Aug 26, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Councilors demand MRT deadlines be adhered to

LOSING PATIENCE Councilors blamed inadequate preparations for problems with the Neihu MRT line which have caused traffic nightmares for local residents

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Furious over continuing delays in the construction of the Neihu Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Line, Taipei city councilors from across the political spectrum yesterday demanded that the Taipei City Government ensure that current deadlines for the project are met. Completion of the line is currently scheduled for December 2008 with services due to begin in March 2009.

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), however, declined to make any promises, and would only say that the city government will try its best to finish the project by 2009.

"It's our goal not to postpone the deadline ? But we were surprised by the complexity and difficulty of the work which needed to be carried out after construction began," Ma said yesterday when presenting a municipal report on the construction of MRT lines to the Taipei City Council.

Acknowledging that the Taipei City Department of Rapid Transit System (DORTS) "was too optimistic" in their evaluation of the project's scheduled progress, Ma said the department would shoulder responsibility for any oversights.

City councilors, however, lashed out at Ma and the department for causing long-term traffic nightmares for Neihu residents by repeatedly postponing the construction deadline.

"The deadline has been delayed for a further 278 days. There should be no more delays," Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) City Councilor Yang Shih-chiu (楊實秋) said.

Since work began on the Neihu Line in May 2002, the project has experienced a number of construction difficulties, DORTS Chief Tom Chang (常岐德) said.

In addition to facing complaints about construction delays, the line's main contractor was involved in a corruption scandal earlier this month after it was found to have submitted forged check requests and doctored photographs.

The MRT Neihu Line will span 14.8km when completed. It will have two underground stations, 12 surface stations and 10 elevated stations. The route will be supported by one power plant and one maintenance factory. Overall construction costs are estimated at NT$66.7 billion (US2.0billion).

KMT City Councilor Chen Cheng-teh (陳正德), People First Party City Councilor Huang Shan-shan (黃珊珊) and Democratic Progressive Party City Councilor Chen Bi-feng (陳碧峰) all criticized the department for not assessing the area adequately before starting construction work.

But Chang said that with two years left, the department felt confident about meeting the current deadline.

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