Thu, Jun 14, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Hau comes under fire over flooding

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

During an inspection tour yesterday, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin, second left, listens to a local resident complaining about flooding and safety concerns after torrential rains in Taipei’s Wenshan District.

Photo: Weng Yu-huang, Taipei Times

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday apologized for an operational oversight at Wanfang pumping station on Tuesday that caused serious flooding in the city’s Muzha District (木柵), and promised to repair the system by tomorrow. He also said compensation would be provided to local residents as soon as possible.

The drainage channel at the station was broken due to an operational error made by a technician surnamed Chang (張), damaging the road surface and causing serious flooding at the intersection of Muzha and Wanfang roads.

During an inspection of the pumping station and disaster-hit areas in the district, Hau apologized for the flooding when confronted by an angry resident, who accused Hau’s team of poor disaster management.

The resident, named Chen Bao-lien (陳寶蓮), stopped Hau during his tour, and said such an error should not be made by pumping station staff. She demanded the city government compensate residents whose property was damaged by the flooding.

“We need the city government to improve the training of pumping station technicians and prevent flooding in the future. Which city official steps down to take the responsibility is irrelevant to us,” she said.

The city government fired Chang on Tuesday afternoon over the damage, and removed Hydraulic Engineering Office director Eric Huang (黃治峰) from his post for poor supervision.

Hau apologized for the damage at the pumping station and promised to have the channel repaired as soon as possible.

“We apologize for the inconvenience the damage caused local residents, and we will reflect deeply upon our negligence. The city government will take full responsibility and offer compensation,” he said.

Hau also apologized for the late announcement of work and class cancelations on Tuesday, which was not made until 10am, infuriating many students and parents. He said the city will establish communication channels with New Taipei City and Keelung so joint announcements on work and class cancelations can be made in the future, since the three cities should function as a “joint living circle.”

“Many people, for example, live in New Taipei City (新北市) and work in Taipei, and it would make more sense if we consider the situations in all three cities and make a joint announcement,” he said.

The city would examine its performance in handling the situation in the wake of the torrential rain and present a report within three days, he said.

Meanwhile, Taipei prosecutors said they were investigating whether the flooding may have constituted negligence by public servants.

Prosecutors said they had asked the city government to provide documents and information about the incident, adding that they were trying to determine whether public servants violated the Offense of Catastrophes Caused by Duty Negligence (廢弛職務釀成災害罪) of the Criminal Code.

Additional reporting by Rich Chang

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