Metro col­lapse not due to gov’t pres­sure: mayor

Taichung mayor says in­ci­dent clearly a case of hu­man er­ror

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE -

Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung yes­ter­day dis­missed spec­u­la­tion that the deadly ac­ci­dent at an MRT con­struc­tion site had any­thing to do with gov­ern­ment pres­sure to rush the com­ple­tion of the city’s mass rapid tran­sit rail­way project.

The mayor, who cut short a trip in South Korea to re­turn to Tai­wan af­ter the mishap, said his gov­ern­ment had only de­manded that the ad­min­is­tra­tive process of the project be ac­cel­er­ated — such as the ac­qui­si­tion of land — but never ex­erted pres­sure to rush the con­struc­tion work.

Lin said hu­man er­ror was clearly to be blamed for the ac­ci­dent, but said an in­ves­ti­ga­tion is un­der­way to de­ter­mine the cause.

He vis­ited the vic­tims and their fam­i­lies at hos­pi­tals early in the morn­ing soon af­ter re­turn­ing to Taichung.

A steel girder weigh­ing al­most 300 tons fell as it was be­ing fit­ted onto an el­e­vated sec­tion of the city’s un­der- con­struc­tion MRT sys­tem Fri­day af­ter­noon, killing four peo­ple and in­jur­ing four oth­ers at a busy in­ter­sec­tion dur­ing rush hour.

One of the vic­tims was a woman who was crushed to death when the girder fell onto the car she was driv­ing. All the other vic­tims were con­struc­tion work­ers.

Spec­u­la­tion ran wild that the con­trac­tor failed to ob­serve safety pro­to­cols be­cause of pres­sure from the city gov­ern­ment to have the work done as soon as pos­si­ble.

Lin said he is look­ing for an ex­pla­na­tion as to why the work was be­ing done dur­ing the day and no traf­fic con­trols were be­ing im­posed.

The city gov­ern­ment al­ready im­posed a NT$100,000 fine on the con­trac­tor, Far Eastern Gen­eral Con­trac­tor (FEGC), for fail­ing to stick to the orig­i­nal plan of do­ing the work at night.

Eight peo­ple from FEGC and the sub-con­trac­tor han­dling the steel work were ques­tioned by pros­e­cu­tors in­ves­ti­gat­ing the ac­ci­dent. They were re­leased af­ter seven of them posted bonds rang­ing from NT$ 100,000 to NT$800,000.

The ones post­ing bond in­cluded an en­gi­neer and a con­struc­tion site manager from FEGC; and an ex­ec­u­tive, an en­gi­neer and a con­struc­tion site manager from the steel work sub-con­trac­tor.

The em­ploy­ees from FEGC claimed that the steel work sub­con­trac­tor was sup­posed to con­trol the traf­fic at the time.

The mayor said the con­struc­tion firm must now learn its les­son and strictly ob­serve the safety re­quire­ments that such work must be done dur­ing the night.

He said the city’s trans­port au­thor­i­ties have made in­spec­tions of the MRT con­struc­tion sites twice a month in the past, but now the fre­quency will be raised to once a week.

Wang Yi- chuan, head of Taichung’s trans­port depart­ment, said FEGC was sup­posed to in­form the city au­thor­i­ties of such large-scale work three days be­fore it was to begin.

But the au­thor­i­ties wee no­ti­fied of the Fri­day work only af­ter 3 p.m., less than two hours be- fore it be­gan. Wang said.

Wang noted that the safety pro­to­col clearly in­di­cates that the lift­ing of steel gird­ers was to have been done be­tween 11:30 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. the next day.

Taipei’s Depart­ment of Rapid Tran­sit Sys­tems ( DORTS), which is build­ing the metro project on be­half of the cen­tral city, said the work progress has ac­tu­ally been slightly ahead of sched­ule, and there has been no pres­sure to rush it.

The project, sched­uled for com­ple­tion in March 2019, is 43 per­cent com­plete, slightly more than the 40.5 per­cent orig­i­nally sched­uled, DORTS said.

CNA

Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung ar­rives at a hos­pi­tal early yes­ter­day morn­ing to visit vic­tims in­jured in an MRT con­struc­tion site ac­ci­dent. Four peo­ple were killed and four oth­ers in­jured when a steel girder fell onto a busy in­ter­sec­tion of the city Fri­day af­ter­noon.

AP

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