Ko blames Taipei Dome row on ‘greed’; dismantling possible
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je yesterday blamed “greed” for the row over the Taipei Dome project, which his administration has now deemed unsafe, with the possibility of having to dismantle the closed baseball stadium.
“Now the structures have been built, but where are the people supposed to evacuate?” asked the mayor, referring to findings by a team of Taipei-commissioned investigators that the design of the baseball park could not cope with an emergency.
He said there was no problem with the original design of the project, but subsequent changes to sharply expand the floor space have reduced the room that could accommodate the evacuees in an emergency.
“This is greed,” said Ko, apparently referring to the expansion that could maximize the profits for the contractor, Farglory, of the build-operate-transfer project to build a baseball park that includes a closed stadium, a hotel, a shopping mall, a movie theater complex and a commercial building.
The mayor was delivering a keynote speech in a private event in Taipei, but it marked the first time that he has made open comments on the Taipei Dome project since the team of investigators released their findings.
Computer simulations the team conducted show that some of the people would still be trapped inside the stadium one hour after evacuation began.
The team has suggested two options: either to tear down the stadium and keep the other structures; or keep the stadium and remove the shopping mall.
Farglory has challenged the team’s findings, dismissing the computer simulations and the two options given it by the city. It has stressed that it will finish the project as planned, or the city government will have to buy it back.
But Ko said it is inconceivable that changes to the design were allowed after the contract was signed between Farglory and the city government. Hau Lung-bin was mayor at the time.
It is “fishy” that Farglory knew the contract could be renegotiated later when signing it.
Meanwhile, the Construction and Planning Agency (CPA) under the Interior Ministry urged both sides to handle the dispute in a “rational” and “objective” way, and seek a solution as soon as possible.
The CPA said it respects the city government’s move to raise the public safety requirements for the Taipei Dome project, but maintained that the fire-prevention and evacuation plans that Farglory had submitted had been approved by experts commissioned by the Interior Ministry.
The tools the experts had used to evaluate the plans were internationally certified, the CPA said, adding the plans were subsequently approved by the Interior Ministry and the Taipei City Government.