Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday promised to ensure quality construction at the new American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) office compound in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖) after a councilor challenged the city government’s authority to monitor the construction.
The AIT’s new office building is set to occupy more than 65,000m2 of government-owned land on Jinhu Road in Neihu. The AIT has signed a contract with the Taiwanese government to lease the land for 99 years for NT$339 million (US$11.6 million) and construction is scheduled to be completed next year.
New Party Taipei City Councilor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) yesterday said the ongoing construction of the building had disturbed local residents, with constant noise and air pollution. The fence that occupies part of the sidewalk next to the site also poses a threat to the safety of pedestrians, Huang said.
“The AIT building has become a US concession zone that the Taipei City Government has no authority over. Other construction projects in Taipei with such a poor record would have been suspended,” she said during a question-and-answer session at the Taipei City Council.
The contractor of the AIT building is a US-based company and it would be impossible for the city government to fine it or impose other punishments, she added.
Hau dismissed Huang’s concerns, saying that construction companies and contractors on any site in the city should abide by the regulations with no exceptions.
“We’ve already communicated with the AIT and asked the contractor to follow city regulations on transportation, environmental protection and noise,” Hau said.
Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Wu Sheng-chong (吳聖忠) said the department had issued six tickets to the builder over noise and other violations.
The construction of the AIT office building will likely remain unfinished by the target completion date. Obstacles delaying construction are believed to stem from a request by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration for information on the office’s structure and location, including plans for quarters housing US Marines.