Sun, Aug 10, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Premier, Chen Chu set safety summit regarding pipelines

Staff writer, with CNA

Workers pump water from a Greater Kaohsiung road that was destroyed in last week’s gas pipeline explosions. The roads have filled up with water following heavy rain over the pastfew days, which has interfered with recovery efforts.

Photo: Chang Chung-yi, Taipei Times

Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) are slated to meet next week over issues concerning petrochemical industrial safety.

Chen said yesterday that she is to lead a group of city government officials to Taipei next week to brief the premier on the situation of the city’s petrochemical pipeline network, adding that issues concerning the division of management between the central and local governments regarding the network and prospects for the city’s petrochemical industry are also to be discussed.

On Friday, a war of words between the Executive Yuan and Kaohsiung authorities ended when they agreed that the central government would foot most of the bill for rebuilding the city after it was badly damaged by powerful propene-fueled blasts on July 31 and Aug. 1 that killed 30 people and injured more than 300.

A five-point consensus on the city’s reconstruction was reached after the two sides argued over how much money Kaohsiung actually had at its disposal for disaster relief and reconstruction.

Executive Yuan Secretary-General Lee Shu-chuan (李四川) and Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Liu Shih-fang (劉世芳), who negotiated the consensus on Friday, agreed to an initial budget of NT$1.9 billion (US$63.3 million) for reconstruction projects.

The city aims to first use the NT$300 million it has in its disaster reserve fund to cover expenses, while the central government is to cover any shortfall based on actual spending, the two parties decided.

The rebuilding effort has been divided into eight construction projects to be tendered and carried out simultaneously to help people in the affected areas get their lives back to normal as soon as possible.

On Wednesday, the Cabinet suggested that Kaohsiung still had NT$1.7 billion left in its disaster budget, but the city said that much of that had already been spent or contractually committed to be disbursed.

Long stretches of road in downtown Kaohsiung were destroyed, with the situation worsening after torrential downpours on Thursday.

Another point of the consensus focused on flooding in the city, with the central government committing the Water Resources Agency to help with flood prevention and equipment during reconstruction.

An additional 17 pumps were installed in the affected areas later on Friday, and the Ministry of the Interior said it would appeal to Tainan and Pingtung counties to contribute another 20 pumps if needed.

The other three points of the consensus involved assistance from the Environmental Protection Administration , the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the military.

Executive Yuan spokesperson Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) said the latest weather forecast indicates that Kaohsiung is likely to be hit by more rain over the next days.

“The Cabinet is now in full mobilization,” Sun said, adding that related government agencies are to keep a close watch on weather forecasts and monitor rainfall to be ready to extend aid.

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