A borough chief yesterday sued Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) for allegedly failing to properly maintain facilities that could have prevented a massive flood when Typhoon Fanapi hit the city.
Benhe borough (本和里) chief Lin Chi-mei (林紀美) said he had collected 1,200 signatures in support of the initiative to sue Chen and city government officials, and filed a complaint with prosecutors demanding state compensation for loss of or damage to properties.
Both Chen and Lin are from the Democratic Progressive Party. However, Lin, who has not received the party’s nod, is running as an independent for re-election as borough chief.
More than 1,700 households and 600 cars were inundated during the typhoon on Sept. 19, Lin said, adding that the principal reason was a malfunction of water pumps installed in the Benhe Water Detention Pond.
“The Kaohsiung City Government did not conduct regular maintenance of the water pumps,” he said.
Accused of “dereliction of duty,” Chen said she welcomed an investigation into claims that the water pumps were out of order during the typhoon.
Chen added that she would not cover up any mistake committed by city government officials in terms of maintenance and operations of the water pumps.
Chen and the city government maintain that the rain accumulated too quickly during the typhoon, overwhelming the drains.
In related news, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said residents living in areas flooded by Fanapi would receive subsidies from the central government to install waterproof gates.
Responding to the appeal by Chen that the central government provide compensation for cars inundated during the storm, Wu said the Executive Yuan would look into the matter.
Chen has requested NT$1.06 billion (US$33.9 million) from the Executive Yuan in compensation, saying she hoped the central government would follow a precedent set in 1998, when Kaohsiung residents, with Wu serving as mayor then, received subsidies for cars damaged by floodwater.
However, the Executive Yuan issued a press release later yesterday rejecting Chen’s request.
The Executive Yuan rejected Chen’s claim that Wu had obtained a sum of money from the central government to offer compensation for people whose vehicles were damaged by the floods in 1998.
Wu requested NT$92 million from the central government, but received only NT$49.2 million, which was used to repair water-pumping and fire-fighting equipment and not distributed as compensation, it said.
It said that motorists whose cars or motorcycles were damaged in the flood could apply to get a refund for their license tax — calculated by multiplying the tax by the number of days during which their cars or motorcycles were under repair and then dividing the result by 365.
The Executive Yuan added that money used to repair flood-damaged cars or motorcycles — up to a maximum of NT$150,000 — can be used as a tax deductible when they file their annual income tax.