Tue, Aug 05, 2014 - Page 3 News List

KAOHSIUNG DISASTER: Businesses facing loss of customers during repairs

INACCESSIBLE:The local government is tasked with rebuilding 6km of roads in the area, as shops and businesses come to terms with logistics issues

By Ko You-hao and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Soldiers dig through piles of dirt yesterday along a section of road wrecked by underground gas pipeline explosions in Greater Kaohsiung last week.

Photo: Fang Chih-hsien, Taipei Times

The explosions in Greater Kao

hsiung’s Cianjhen (前鎮) and Lingya (苓雅) districts last week have caused at least 1,500 stores to close temporarily as the city government works to rebuild roads and repair structural damage caused by the blasts.

Tsai Chih-liang (蔡志亮), the owner of an electrical appliances store, said he opened for business on Sunday, but that the ruined roads have definitely affected customer numbers.

Tsai said he estimated he would be lucky to make NT$5 million (US$166,600) this year, half of what he usually sees in annual sales, due to the blasts.

Hundreds of businesses on Lizai Road, which was completely ruined, have closed due to a lack of customers.

A scooter repair shop owner surnamed Liu (劉), who has run his business for 30 years, said Yisin Road used to offer many business opportunities due to its large volume of pedestrian traffic, but the explosions have changed that.

“I heard it will take half a year for the roads to be repaved, and while I want to move the business temporarily, there are no good spots,” Liu said.

Wang Mao-pin (王茂彬), the owner of an event decoration store, said that while he can still conduct his business online, he was at a loss as to how to provide supplies as trucks are unable to reach his store, adding that he did not know what his losses might add up to.

Kaisyuan Road, commonly called “car rental street” due to the number of car rental agencies on it, was also severely hit by the blasts, with cars and buildings damaged.

Some business owners on Kaisyuan Road are already seeking to relocate rather than wait for reconstruction to finish, saying they had to make a living and “couldn’t stand around and starve.”

The Greater Kaohsiung Government said it was preparing to repair 6km of road damaged by the explosions.

Economic Development Bureau Director Tseng Wen-sheng (曾文生) said that 1,275 companies that have registered for compensation related to the disaster so far.

There are easily 1,500 stores that suffered damage from the explosions, but have not registered, Tseng said, adding that the losses the stores have suffered are off the charts.

The city government will reduce taxes for stores affected by the blasts and construct paths to allow access to areas without roading, Tseng said, adding that businesses could also apply for social aid.

Yesterday morning, traffic in Cianjhen District was in gridlock on the first business day after the blasts ripped up several streets in the district on Thursday night and early Friday morning.

The roads were clogged with vehicles as police blocked traffic into the area to allow technicians to check for gas leaks in underground pipelines.

In the Sanduo business center, which is usually packed with shoppers, it was relatively slow yesterday morning.

Meanwhile, soldiers deployed to help with rescue operations continued to dig in the area, searching for people killed in the disaster, while residents tried to deal with the stench of what they believe to be decomposing bodies.

Additional reporting by CNA

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