Legislators across party lines yesterday urged the Ministry of Education and the central government to conduct a thorough inspection of school buildings that have not been repaired since the 921 Earthquake in 1999.
The lawmakers expressed their concerns following reports that many victims in this week’s Sichuan earthquake were students buried under collapsed school buidlings.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Lin-chun (江玲君)told a press conference that many students were unharmed during the collapse of schools in the 921 earthquake because the quake struck after midnight.
“But the government cannot expect all earthquakes to happen at night. Therefore, we hope the government would establish a task force [for the inspection] to ensure pupils’ safety,” Chiang said.
KMT Legislator Chang Sho-wen (張碩文) said that about 1,500 schools did not repair the buildings that almost collapsed during 921 due to lack of funding.
He added that a thorough inspection was necessary in light of what happened in Sichuan Province.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsueh Ling (薛凌) told a separate press conference that, according to her research, the 921 Earthquake leveled 293 school buildings and damaged another 830.
Hsueh, citing the study, said that more than 13,000 buildings at 3,300 junior high and elementary schools natiownide need to be rebuilt, or upgraded to meet stricter standards.
Hsueh said she has begun seeking endorsement from lawmakers to request the government to rebuild school buildings labeled as “dangerous,” whose major structures have suffered damage.