Sun, Jul 16, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Taipei disaster prevention center launch postponed

MUTUAL ACCUSATIONS:Mayor Ko Wen-je accused the transportation ministry of inaction on the issue, whereas a ministry official said Ko’s demands had caused the delay

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday again accused the Ministry of Transportation and Communications of inaction on the establishment of a joint disaster prevention center at Taipei Railway Station.

Ko has repeatedly stressed the importance of establishing the center with the ministry and on July 10 was reportedly upset after speaking with officials from the Taipei Fire Department, who told him the center would be completed in March 2019, which he considers too late.

Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said on Friday that Ko’s remarks were “utterly baffling,” because they were proceeding according to schedule.

He said the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) had originally planned to establish an emergency response center, but Ko ordered the establishment of a joint disaster prevention center last year.

After negotiations between various agencies the plan was to complete such a center before March 2019, so that it would coincide with the installation of a smart integrated system in the station, Wang said, adding that he has confidence that the process would be smoother than the construction of the Taipei Dome.

Ko yesterday responded: “The decision to establish a joint disaster prevention center at Taipei Railway Station was made 11 years ago.”

“When I took up the post [of mayor], I often criticized the situation and thought that after the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took office, the situation would be better, but the progress did not go any faster,” he said.

Taipei Railway Station handles an average of 520,000 passengers per day, but it has no joint disaster prevention center, Ko said.

As the city’s mayor, he had to deal with the problem and had been criticizing the situation for the past two years, he said.

“When you [the ministry] are criticized, do not react like a porcupine,” Ko said. “There is no need to respond to me, just hurry up and solve the problem.”

The Taipei Fire Department said in a statement that the Executive Yuan’s National Disaster Prevention and Response Committee had as early as 2006 instructed the ministry to guide the TRA in the establishment of a joint disaster prevention center.

The project was twice delayed by contract disputes, in 2014 and 2015, it said, adding that the TRA only issued the tender this month, which is why the project is scheduled for completion in March 2019.

However, the fire department can only prevent disasters when its firefighters arrive on site, it said. Hence, the station needs a joint disaster prevention command center to protect crowds as soon as a disaster occurs, so the firefighters still urge the ministry and the TRA to establish the center as soon as possible, the statement said.

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