Civil servants who approved the construction and use permits for the Weiguan Jinlong complex in Tainan should share the blame alongside its developer for the structure’s collapse, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) said on Sunday.
The 17-story, multi-building complex collapsed during the magnitude 6.4 earthquake on Feb. 6, eventually accounting for 114 of quake’s total of 116 fatalities.
Speaking on a political talk show, Wang said that the government only issues a construction permit for a project after the building’s blueprints have passed two separate reviews, one for safety and the other for aesthetics.
Prior to issuing a construction permit, the project is scrutinized in a safety review of the soundness of its structural mechanics, its weight distribution and depth, the thickness of steel rebars and the quality of materials, Wang said.
Once work begins on the site, government inspectors and regulators are required to photograph the work performed on each level and evaluate it for compliance with the original plans, before the developer is allowed to pour concrete on that level and begin working on the next one, he said.
The completed building can obtain a use permit — required for buyers to obtain mortgages, sales and property transfers — only after it has passed every inspection of its component levels during construction, he added.
Prosecutors have detained property developer Lin Ming-hui (林明輝), whose now-defunct Weiguan Construction Co built the Weiguan Jinlong complex.
They have said that the complex was not built to specifications, for example using only half the number of steel rods for its east-side rebars that its plans indicated, Wang said.
If those allegations are true, it would appear that the inspectors and regulators who signed the construction and use permits were complicit in wrongdoing alongside Lin, he said.
Loopholes in the current regulations also give developers too much latitude in dictating building plans to architects and afford too many opportunities for exerting improper influence over public officials, the lawmaker said, adding that those loopholes must be closed.
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