Sun, Apr 26, 2015 - Page 3 News List

City panned for ‘sea-sand buildings’

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

The Taipei City Government has dragged its feet in addressing school buildings that are structurally unsound, Taipei city councilors Chien Shu-pei (簡舒培) and Rosalia Wu (吳思瑤) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday.

“The city’s Department of Education has done nothing about many school buildings that meet demolition criteria,” Wu said.

She said that Taipei Municipal Jianguo High School’s Ziqiang building is an example of the department’s alleged massaging of dangerous building figures.

Wu said the department had not included the building on its public list of dangerous buildings marked for demolition, even though an internal investigation had found it to be a “sea-sand building.”

“Sea-sand buildings” are structures whose concrete contains cheap, ocean-sourced sand.

Salt in the sand leads to the rapid corrosion of steel used in construction, increasing the risk of building collapse during earthquakes.

“Because [the Ziqiang buildings’ structural weakness] can not be seen with the naked eye, the department has pretended it does not exist,” Wu said, adding that based on the department’s internal investigation, there are at least six other school buildings across the city that have not been placed on the list of “dangerous buildings.”

She criticized previous city administrations for dragging their feet in addressing the issue, adding that a comprehensive review of school building safety had taken eight years to complete.

Department engineering head Hsu Chiao-hua (許巧華) said the buildings met safety standards that were in place when they were constructed, but needed to be strengthened to meet heightened standards adopted in 1997.

Hsu said they were not “sea-sand” buildings.

She said that work on buildings to help them meet the new standards has dragged out because investigation and strengthening can take place only during summer breaks, and also because of the sheer number of buildings involved.

Department figures show that at least 785 of the city’s 1357 buildings failed to meet the new standards, with 123 still requiring strengthening measures.

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