The contractor for Taipei City’s Xinsheng Overpass reconstruction project, Join Engineering Consultants, yesterday said that the city government is to blame for the overpriced flowers used at the bridge site, and added that the prices in the flower purchase plan were finalized by the city government.
In a written statement, the company said it followed the required procedures, including price comparison and unit price analysis, before listing the total budget of the project, which was over NT$1.3 billion (US$ 40 million), and the budget plan underwent city government review and approval procedures.
The company admitted drafting the flower purchase plans and several other purchase plans, but argued that due to the lack of construction companies bidding for the project amid the global financial crisis in 2007, the city government instructed the company to raise the unit price in the purchase plans to facilitate bidding and start the reconstruction as soon as possible.
“We expressed our doubts about the price change in the budget, but we followed the city government’s instructions because the bridge needed work to ensure its safety,” the company said.
The contractor’s statement contradicted the city government’s argument, which accused the company of failing to go through price comparison procedures before making purchase plans.
As a result, said the city government, it paid several times the market price for flowers and other project materials.
The company protested against what it described as “strong interference” by the city government when drawing up the budget, and threatened to take legal action against the city government if it continued to damage the company’s reputation.
In response, the city government yesterday slammed the company for groundless accusations. It insisted the company failed to carry out a price comparison before compiling the budget, and said the city government already sent the case to the prosecutors for further investigation.
“The company rejected the city government task force’s request for a visit on Aug. 25 to clarify the issues, and we regret that it decided to issue a statement against us,” the city government said in a written statement, while reiterating its promise to take action against any officials found to have taken bribes from the contractor.