Yushan National Park Administration may have violated the Government Procurement Act (政府採購法) and the Construction Industry Act (營造業法) in the reconstruction of the Pai Yun Lodge (排雲山莊), a source said.
The lodge is a rest building for hikers, located 3,400m above sea level. It can accommodate 82 hikers in the main building and 20 in its camping area.
Due to the heavy traffic on Yushan hiking trails, the park administration decided to refurbish the lodge and add a second floor in 2010. However, environmental protection groups opposed the plan on grounds that it might cause an ecological disaster.
To allay those concerns, the administration spent NT$1.3 million (US$43,946) in 2009 commissioning outside sources to evaluate the lodge project, and in 2010 spent another NT$900,000 on environmental and ecological monitoring.
Construction began in October 2010, but was soon met with protests.
A reader who tipped off the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) on the alleged violations said the park administration had torn everything down except a few walls, and was actually rebuilding the whole building under the guise of refurbishing.
The administration’s methods to sidestep environmental criticism were in themselves very controversial, the reader said.
The reader said that in an effort to evade inspection by the Public Construction Commission and to be able to apply for green architecture labels, the park administration said it was only spending NT$40 million, but the estimates deliberately omitted the expense of airlifting materials by helicopter, which would have brought expenditures close to NT$100 million.
The park administration may have violated the law, the reader said, adding that it was illogical that the designers weren’t looking into the matter because there was such a serious breach of design.
‧ The Yushan National Park Administration spent NT$1.3 million (US$43,946) in 2009 on outside sources to evaluate the lodge project.
‧ It spent NT$900,000 on environmental and ecological monitoring.
‧ The original budget for the project was NT$45 million, but the winning bid was NT$38 million.
‧ Multiple design changes have boosted the budget to NT$44 million.
‧ A complaint says the true cost may reach NT100 million.
Deputy park administration Director Wu Hsiang-chien (吳祥堅) said that while it was true that there were some additional fees in the construction process, any such fees would be handled through contracts.
The original budget for the construction stood at NT$45 million, and the winning construction bid came in at NT$38 million, Wu said. However, due to multiple design changes during construction process, the budget had been increased to NT$44 million.
The differences in the design conception of the construction and the design companies may cause the cost to increase to more NT$50 million, but no costs had been omitted from the budget quotes, Wu said.
The project is currently 93 percent complete, the park administration said, adding that it had asked the construction company to expedite work and finish quickly to avoid inconveniencing domestic and foreign hikers.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer