Fri, Jun 09, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Hochen not confident about airport

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The problems that have occurred at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport would not repeat in the short term, Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) said yesterday, but added that he cannot promise nothing bad would happen at the airport if another torrential rain hits the facility.

Questions about the airport’s ability to withstand flash floods resurfaced after a minor flood hit Terminal Two on Friday last week as a stationary front brought torrential rainfall across the nation.

The terminal also suffered its worst damage on the same day last year, when extremely heavy rains brought by a frontal system hit northern Taiwan. Floodwaters blocked two underpasses leading to terminals, and rainwater leaked through Terminal Two’s ceiling and caused flooding in its underground food court.

The Central Weather Bureau has forecast another stationary for next week that has the potential to bring heavy rains and cause damage.

“Taoyuan Airport is a big airport and has buildings that have been around for more than 40 years. I cannot promise that nothing would happen when the rain comes. What we can promise is that the situation that has happened before would not reoccur in the short term. This means that everyone in the airport has to be disciplined and learn from the mistake so that we can meet people’s expectations,” Hochen said yesterday.

The amount of rainfall that the airport has to endure sometimes exceeds its design limits, he said.

The airport will face the challenges brought by next week’s rain with fear, he said, adding that he trusts the airport operator will not repeat its mistakes.

Separately yesterday, Hochen told a radio interview that he will hold the airport staff accountable if anything occurs due to personnel error.

Rainwater leaked into the duty-free shops in Terminal Two on Friday last week, which is different from last year’s flooding, Hochen said.

Hochen also shrugged off the doubts about a series of railway projects in the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, particularly regarding how the local governments that propose the projects plan to maintain and sustain the railways.

“We need to stipulate from the beginning the percentage of revenue that would be gained from ticket sales. The local governments should not try to please their residents by setting an extremely low ticket price and not changing the price for 10 or 20 years,” he said.

Apart from their commitments from setting reasonable ticket prices, Hochen said they must manage to generate additional revenue using the railway system, including advertisements.

“If the local governments think that they can just wait for the railways to be built, this means that they have no intention of using the railways to create anything unique about their localities or boost the use of the public transport system. It means they do not deserve taxpayers’ money,” he said.

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