Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday ordered a nationwide inspection of bridges in the wake of Tuesday’s collapse of the Nanfangao Bridge in Yilan County’s Suao Township (蘇澳), but also said that the bridge would be rebuilt, as Nanfangao is a major fishing port and a tourist attraction.
Su also ordered the newly established Taiwan Transportation Safety Board to investigate the cause of the collapse and report on how improvements can be made to prevent similar incidents.
Inspection of bridges overseen by the Taiwan International Ports Corp (TIPC) are to focus on those that are old or dilapidated, have been hit by landslides, are structurally unique, or located by ports or the seaside, leaving them prone to corrosion, Su said at a weekly Cabinet meeting.
Photo: Wu Cheng-feng, Taipei Times
The Public Construction Commission is to create a list of all bridges not overseen by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), Su said.
The commission is also to ensure that any potentially dangerous bridges are identified and that the needed reinforcement work is conducted by the relevant agencies, the premier added.
Inspections of bridges overseen by TIPC are to be completed by the end of this year, Executive Yuan spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said.
Photo courtesy of Ministry of National Defense
There are more than 20,000 bridges nationwide that fall under the jurisdiction of local governments, and they are to undergo a thorough inspection, she said.
No matter how many administrations there have been over the 21 years since the Nanfangao Bridge was built, the current administration would not seek to evade responsibility over the incident, she added.
The design and tendering process for rebuilding the bridge is to be overseen by the Public Construction Commission, Su told the Cabinet.
Later in the day, Su was asked by reporters whether TIPC was simply a pork-barrel agency for Democratic Progressive Party, as the Nanfangao Bridge had not been inspected for 21 years, while TIPC’s three former chairmen during President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration had all served in the Kaoshiung City Government when Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu (陳菊) was mayor of Kaohsiung.
Once the investigation into the collapse is complete, anyone found to bear responsibility for the incident would be strictly punished, Su told reporters.
It would be appropriate for personnel that were negligent in maintaining the bridge to be subject to punishment, he said.
In other developments, military personnel yesterday morning cleared a path for about 500 fishing boats to enter and exit the fishing port amid the ongoing removal of the bridge wreckage, the premier announced.
If the work of fishing boats in the port or the operations of stores or businesses in the port area prove to be affected by the heavy vehicles being used to clear the debris, the transportation ministry would provide compensation after consulting Minister Without Portfolio Wu Tze-cheng (吳澤成), he added.
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