Thu, Dec 04, 2008 - Page 2 News List

DPP councilor finds other 'unstable' gondola pillars

SHAKY SUPPORT? The city government said it had no knowledge of any other damaged pillars, while Tsai Ing-wen called for a probe into the gondola’s construction

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

At least another five to nine of the pillars supporting the Maokong Gondola are unstable or damaged, a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilor said yesterday, urging the Taipei City Government not to overlook the system’s safety issues.

Taipei City Councilor Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄) said that in addition to the problematic Tower No. 16, he had found other pillars that had been built on unstable ground.

One of the unstable pillars is located near the Zhinan Temple Station, Chuang said, but declined to say where the other problematic pillars were located.

He said he would make the details public once he has collected all the necessary information.

The pillars were built on unstable ground where the topsoil is fragile, and they could be damaged like Tower No. 16 if heavy rains or typhoons occurred, Chuang said.

“I was shocked when city government officials said there were no more damaged pillars. I hope they are not trying to cover up the truth,” he said at Taipei City Council.

The city government said on Tuesday that it was looking for alternative sites to relocate Tower No. 16, after typhoon-related flooding eroded the ground around the pillar.

Responding to Chuang’s allegations, Taipei City Government spokesman Yang Hsiao-tung (羊曉東) said the city government had no knowledge of any other damaged pillars.

However, Sherman Chen (陳雄文), commissioner of Taipei City’s Department of Economic Development, acknowledged on Tuesday that there was accumulated water around the slopes of certain pillars.

He said the city government would work to prevent any collapses in the area.

Meanwhile, DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who was the mayor of Taipei when construction of the system started, should face an investigation into the construction of the cable car system.

She said as the gondola was located in a mountainous area, it should have first passed a strict environmental assessment and water and soil evaluation, but the Taipei City Government ignored such evaluations and completed the project hastily to make it a sightseeing place.

Tsai said the judiciary and the Control Yuan should conduct a swift investigation and punish officials responsible for the scandal.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY RICH CHANG

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