Tue, May 21, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Ko defends decision to extend Farglory’s contract

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, center, delivers a report on major development projects at Taipei City Hall yesterday.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday defended the city government’s extension of Farglory Group’s contract to build the Taipei Dome, saying he only insisted that the project be handled “legally and safely,” as environmentalists protested the extension outside Taipei City Hall.

Ko was confronted with about a dozen environmentalists holding a large banner that read, “The Taipei Dome project has been suspended for four years, when will you deal with the corrupt practices?” as he arrived at the building to deliver a report on the city’s major development projects.

Members of the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association and Songshan Tobacco Factory Tree Protection Union urged Ko to terminate the city’s contract with Farglory, tear down the Dome and transform the site into a forest park.

Ko accepted the petition they handed to him, but did not respond to their demands until they asked him if he would deal with the case before his term ends, to which he responded: “Of course.”

In his report to the Taipei City Council, Ko said the Dome’s location makes it difficult for the structure to host 60,000 to 140,000 spectators due to busy traffic around the site.

The plot of land for the Dome should have cost more than NT$15 billion (US$478 million), but the contract allowed Farglory to pay no royalties, Ko said, adding that all of these conditions had been decided before he took office.

The project’s scope was increased from three buildings to five buildings after the build-operate-transfer contract was signed, and the main field was designed to rest 10.5m below ground level, which makes evacuation difficult, he said, adding that fire compartment designs for the basement level are also unsafe.

The city would face a long legal battle if it ordered the Dome’s destruction, so his idea is to solve the problems, such as redesigning the fire compartments and evacuation routes, and make the Dome a legal and safe structure, Ko said.

The project was suspended because the contractor did not conform to approved blueprints, and it must reapply for a new construction permit and pass the required reviews for the project to continue, he said, adding that Farglory still has to pass an urban design review and an environmental impact assessment.

Many people wonder why there is ongoing construction work at the site, Ko said, adding that it is because a court allowed 14 safety-related remedial tasks to continue.

An arbitration ruling on Friday last week allowed Farglory to extend the project’s construction period for another 500 days, so the company has not breached the contract, as it is still within the legal construction period, he said.

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