Local governments nationwide have launched safety inspections on old residential blocks and buildings with mixed commercial use in the wake of Thursday’s deadly fire in Kaohsiung’s Cheng Chung Cheng (城中城) building, which claimed 46 lives and injured dozens.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said on Friday that while the Ministry of the Interior’s regulations require fire safety inspections for buildings of 16 stories or higher, the Taipei City Government has since 2014 mandated safety inspection for buildings of 11 stories or higher.
Ko added that Taipei has 124 buildings that are mixed residential and commercial properties.
The Taipei City Government on Friday said that new regulations are to be enforced from Jan. 1 next year, requiring safety inspections on buildings over eight stories or higher.
When told that only about 40 percent of all high-rise buildings in Taipei have management committees, Ko said that he is aware of the situation, adding that the city government has special advisory teams to help residents set up their own committees.
“Right now we can only use persuasion,” he said, adding that “amending relevant laws enforcing management committee requirements would be the most direct way to deal with the issue, especially for those old high-rise buildings.”
Separately, some Taichung city councilors during deliberations at city hall on Friday said that Taichung has many mixed-use buildings that have been deemed unsafe.
To prevent fires or other tragedies from occurring in Taichung, the councilors have asked the city government to present a report on ways of dealing with unsafe or old buildings, and to have listed it for the next agenda.
Taichung City Councilor Lo Ting-wei (羅廷瑋) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) demanded that the city government initiate immediate fire inspections and compile a list of all old buildings in Taichung.
He also urged enhanced programs for fire drills and safety inspections, along with firm enforcement of regulations for street-level arcade walkways, which are commonly occupied by scooters, other vehicles or illegal storefronts.
Meanwhile, Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) on Friday said that he has ordered inspections of 50 buildings in the city deemed to be old or unsafe, adding that officials have already found five buildings “at high risk,” having failed fire safety inspections.
“They have been told to rectify the violations and a deadline has been given. If no improvement is found upon further inspection, fines would be imposed, and names of the buildings and their owners would be published to warn people not to live there,” he said.
Additional reporting by Hong Jui-chin
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