Thu, Feb 21, 2019 - Page 3 News List

No timetable for Taipei Dome, must follow process: Ko

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je addresses a general meeting of the Chinese Non-Store Retailer Association in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times

There is no schedule for finishing construction of the Taipei Dome, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said yesterday, adding that he has realized there are many aspects of the project that need help from the central government.

The Chinese-language Mirror Media magazine yesterday reported that the project’s contractor, Farglory Group (遠雄集團), has been considering selling its share of the controversial project to other companies.

The magazine cited a source as saying that Ko had before the Lunar New Year holiday met with local business owners interested in taking over the project.

As Ko in December last year indicated that he might announce a run for president in June, the magazine quoted the source as saying that the Taipei Dome project’s problems would be solved by June, which it interpreted as Ko’s plan to remove his “greatest obstacle” on his way toward a presidential bid next year.

The Taipei City Government favors an investment company established in Japan that consists of two Taiwanese firms, a Thailand-based company and Japan’s Softbank Group, the magazine said.

Asked to confirm the report, Ko said: “We have not set a timetable for the Taipei Dome project, meaning that it must be legal, safe and reasonable.”

“If I could set a timetable for it, I would have solved it before running for re-election last year, but safety cannot be neglected, so it must go through the legal procedure,” he said.

“I see the Taipei Dome project as the culmination of past mistakes,” he added.

Ko compared the situation to one he often saw as a surgeon: complaining about traffic accidents seriously injuring the people he was trying to save.

Complaining about the problem is useless, he said, adding that all that he can do is deal with the aftermath.

The Taipei Dome’s main stadium was designed to rest 10.5m under ground, meaning that people would have to climb about three stories in an emergency, and the design did not leave enough space around the main structure for an evacuation, so there are serious public safety issues, Ko said.

Those issues could be ameliorated if the Taipei Railway Workshop in the north, which is overseen by the Taiwan Railways Administration, and the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in the south were willing to release some space to improve evacuation routes, he said.

If the space in the Taipei Dome project that has been designated for shopping areas could be converted into a department store and office building, the total number of people in the complex would significantly drop, reducing the risk of obstructions during an evacuation, he added.

“I have realized that we need help from the central government to solve many problems with the Taipei Dome project, so I clearly expressed that need for help to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) when I met her [in December last year,” Ko said, adding that the city government would work closely with Minister Without Portfolio Chang Ching-sen (張景森), who was appointed to oversee the case.

The city government would be glad to see a company be willing to convert the shopping areas into a shopping mall and business office complex, but it would not interfere with business negotiations and their associated profit, he said, adding that it would only monitor how the complex is being used and whether it meets public safety standards.

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