Thu, Apr 19, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Feature: Kaohsiung's waterfront plans sinking

PIER-LESS PROPOSALThe city government wants to build a pop music center on Pier 10 in Kaohsiung Harbor, but the harbor bureau doesn't want to give it up

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Boat lights shimmer on the water of Kaohsiung Harbor on Jan. 23. Plans to build a pop music center have hit a snag as various government offices wrangle over which pier should be used.


For the past few years the Kaohsiung City Government has been trying get the central government to give it jurisdiction over Kaohsiung Harbor. A key part of its efforts was to draw up a vision for a new waterfront landscape for the city by turning 22 of the harbor's 122 piers into recreation space for city residents and tourists.

The major breakthrough in the waterfront scheme came in August 2005, when the city government signed an official administrative contract with the Kaohsiung Harbor Bureau -- a subsidiary of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications -- to redevelop Fisherman's piers 11 to 15.

On Oct. 30, 2005, Pier 13 -- formerly a boarding dock for soldiers heading to Kinmen -- was renovated as the Honorary Pier (光榮碼頭).

On Christmas Eve that year, Pier 12 was transformed into a leisure quay and given a romantic name -- True Love Pier (真愛碼頭). A cruise service along the Love River operates from here.

Pier 22 -- originally a ferry wharf -- was renovated into a park and renamed Hsinkuang Wharf (新光碼頭).

Piers 1, 2 and 3 were turned into Fishermen's Wharf (漁人碼頭) and became home to many restaurants and a visitors' information center.

Making the docks accessible to the public was a pioneering work because Kaohsiung Harbor, although only about 10 minutes from downtown Kaohsiung, used to be isolated from public life because access to the harbor area was barred by walls and gates.

The city government's waterfront vision, however, has run into a major roadblock as it wrangles with the Kaohsiung Harbor Bureau over the use of Pier 10 -- right in the middle of the waterfront landscape map -- as the site for the nation's first pop music center.

The city government received NT$4 billion (US$121 million) from the Council for Cultural Affairs to build the center, with the precondition that its location be determined by the end of last month.

But the location of the center remains a point of contention between the city government, the harbor bureau and several marine industry associations.

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) criticized the harbor bureau for "departmental egoism" and ignoring the fact that development of the harbor is inextricably entwined with the development of the city.

"There are 122 piers in Kaohsiung Harbor. Although the pier the city government picked to build the pop music center is still in use, [undoubtably] the development of the harbor and the city are closely related," she said earlier this month after paying a visit to the bureau's Director-General Shieh Ming-hui (謝明暉).

Kaohsiung's 11 marine industry associations, however, think otherwise.

"We strongly oppose the transformation of a pier for international trade into a place for leisure activities because turning Pier 10 into the center will hinder the operation of piers four to nine, which are adjacent to Pier 10," said Kang Hsieh-cheng (康賢政), chairman of the Kaohsiung Harbor Industry Association.

Kang, who has led a major demonstration against the city government and submitted a joint petition to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus last month, said the harbor bureau has given five piers to the city since August 1995, but the renovated piers are usually idle.

Kang said that although the city government has included Pier 10 in its waterfront plan, the harbor bureau only agreed to "hand over" the piers included in the project on the condition that alternative piers to the docks be found first.

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