Govt to turn Keeling into Baltimore of Taiwan

Children display their paintings as visitors look at an 18-metre-tall (59-feet) bath toy duck replica (Back) created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman as it floats its repair in Keelung harbor after repaired on January 3, 2014.

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The government yesterday announced a grand plan to give Keelung Harbor a makeover, which will relocate military docks on the east side to make way for a new tourist attraction.

Under the plan, the naval bases will be moved to military wharfs yet to be built on the west side.

Premier Jiang Yi-huah, in the company of Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih and Defence Minister Yen Ming, held a press conference to explain the new project at Keelung Harbor yesterday.

While the functions of Keelung Harbor will remain unchanged, the makeover will give the northeastern harbour a clearer zoning plan. Wharfs on the west side will be devoted to freight services, and wharfs on the east will be redeveloped into a tourist attraction area.

National Taiwan Ocean University and the National Museum of Marine Science & Technology will be included in the tourist attraction zone under the scheme. The goal is to turn Keelung Harbor into "Taiwan's Baltimore," the government said. The American seaport is known for its freight services capacity as well as tourist attractions.

A Brand New Keelung City

Keelung Harbor has played a critical role in Keelung City's development. With the new plan, the seaport city is likely to see many changes down the road. New industries may emerge and more job opportunities may also be created.

"Maybe we won't see results in two to three years, but we will see a completely new Keelung in 10 years," Premier Jiang said, adding that "this will be a very important development for Keelung in the next half century."

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications is in charge of the government's flagship project. The ministry has set a goal of drawing up the makeover plan by 2015 or 2016. New wharfs will then be built for the naval forces on the west east side of the port. Jiang hopes that the naval base relocation can be done in about a year.

Multiple Benefits to Keelung Harbor

Transportation Minister Yeh believes the makeover will have many advantages. First, the Navy will have a better-equipped military base. Second, expanded freight capacity will bring in more revenue for the port. The scheme is beneficial to Keelung Harbor's overall development, Yeh said.

Defence Minister Yen pointed out Keelung Harbor's strategic importance, as the Navy has utilized it to carry out all missions in Northern Taiwan. The Ministry of National Defence will cooperate with the central government as it carries out Keelung's urban renewal project, Yen said. It will hand over the naval base in a way that does not jeopardize the military's capability, he said.