Transport ministry suggests local gov'ts to blame for Taichung Metro collapse

Transport ministry suggests local gov'ts to blame for Taichung Metro collapse
A train on the railway track in Taipei, Taiwan. Known as the Metro, it is run by the Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation (TRTC).

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) suggested that local governmental bodies managing the construction of Taichung Metro were responsible for the fatal accident at a metro building site on Friday.

The MOTC pointed out that it signed a "tripartite agreement" with the Taichung Government and the Taipei City Government in 2008 to push forward the Taichung Metro construction.

According to the pact, the MOTC is in charge of overseeing the construction schedule and funding, Taipei City oversees the design and construction of the metro system, and Taichung supervises business operations, land development, urban planning, land acquirement and co-operation between local enterprises.

The MOTC's comment came as some media outlets suggested that the accident might have been caused by the construction vendor hurrying to meet deadlines, which according to the pact is set by the MOTC.

The MOTC said that site operation management problems are the potential reason that an under-construction section of Taichung Mass Rail Transit System had collapsed last Friday, which caused four deaths and four injuries.

MOTC officials said that they will be sending out investigators to the site of the collapse, implementing even stricter construction site safety regulations that adhere to related regulations, traffic control and management plans.

Liu An-te of Taipei City's Department of Rapid Transit Systems Central District Project Office, who is charge of supervising the construction, said box girders should be fixed with at least one-third of the bolts before installation, according to regulations. Box girders are usually equipped with fixtures that enable minute adjustments later in the construction process, Liu said.

The box girder that fell on Friday had 1,463 out of 3,242 bolts installed, which meant it was already 45 per cent finished, Liu explained. The box girder was intact upon impact on the ground, meaning bolt installation problems could not be the cause of the collapse.

In response to questions on whether the collapse was caused by workers hurrying to withdraw the crane, Liu said that as he understands it, there was no hurry to call it back.

The construction was scheduled to end at 4 p.m. Authorities had applied to prolong the process until 8 p.m. once they were sure that the construction could not be finished by the deadline of around 2-3 p.m. explained Liu.

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