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Old January 31st, 2013, 03:30 PM   #301
hkskyline
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Wed, Jan 30, 2013
Taipei agrees to save park from building plan
Taipei Times


A man wearing a mask of Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin wields a mock axe during a skit at the entrance of Taipei City Hall yesterday concerning the planned athletes’ village for the 2017 Summer Universiade in New Taipei City’s Linkou District.
Photo: CNA


The Taipei City Government yesterday promised to keep a park and ecosystem in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Linkou District (林口) untouched in building the athletes’ village for the 2017 Summer Universiade, as a group of residents expressed concern that the construction would impact the local environment.

The residents, who staged a protest in front of Taipei City Hall yesterday, opposed the building of dormitories for athletes on the land where the Linkou Sports Park stands, as well as a forest trail on the other side of the road with more than 1,200 trees. They called on the government to maintain the integrity of Linkou’s ecosystem.

“Government officials did not discuss the [construction] plans with local residents and ignored the impact the dormitories would have on the local environment. We are the ones who have to bear the consequences of the damage to Linkou’s environment caused by the sports event,” said Hsu Chu-feng (許主峰), a Linkou resident and chairman of the Love for Our Hometown Association.

Taipei Deputy Mayor Chen Wei-jen (陳威仁) said residents should not be concerned because the city government had decided to keep the park and forest trail, and to build the athletes’ village on land that is near a residential area.

“The athletes’ village will be built on land that has been reserved for public housing, and the dormitories will become housing units for local residents after the event ... We will continue communicating with local residents on the issue,” he said.

The city government yesterday launched the Summer Universiade organizing committee, with Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and local government chiefs in New Taipei City, Keelung, Taoyuan County, Hsinchu City and Hsinchu County all serving as committee members.

Presiding over the launch ceremony at Taipei City Hall, Hau said the Summer Universiade will be the largest sporting event ever hosted in Taiwan, and more than 12,000 athletes from 160 nations will gather in Taipei in 2017 to participate in the event.

Taipei will work with the five other cities and counties to hold 17 major competitions in 64 existing facilities.

Keelung Mayor Chang Tung-jung (張通榮) and Hsinchu County Deputy Commissioner Chang Jen-hsiang (章仁香) said they hoped to host more competitions to boost the popularity of the city and county.

Taipei Deputy Mayor Timothy Ting (丁庭宇) said the city had decided that soccer games would be held in Keelung and the swimming competition would be held in Hsinchu City.

The organizing committee will continue to discuss with cooperating cities and counties to determine the venues for various competitions.

Of the 17 competitions, Taipei has taken advantage of its position as the host city to pick games where Taiwan has the best chances of winning a gold medal: baseball, badminton and archery.

The 2017 Summer Universiade will be held from Aug. 19 through Aug. 30.
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Old February 6th, 2013, 11:51 AM   #302
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Wed, Feb 06, 2013
Bitan bridge at risk from building project: group
FALLING DOWN? New Taipei City said it has no plans for demolishing the bridge, as engineering experts questioned its claims that the bridge needs renovation
Taipei Times


People walk across a pedestrian suspension bridge in the Bitan area of New Taipei City’s Sindian District yesterday. The structure of the bridge may be threatened by building work nearby, an environmental group said.
Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times


An urban renewal project near the famous suspension bridge at New Taipei City’s (新北市) Bitan (碧潭) scenic spot could damage the bridge’s structure and put it at risk of collapsing, the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU) said yesterday amid concern that the city may tear down the 76-year-old landmark.

The group cited a civil engineer, Wang Wei-min (王偉民), as saying that workers have been digging 15m deep for the construction of a 26-story building for an urban renewal project — only about 1m from the bridge’s support base — which could compromise the bridge’s structure.

The group also questioned the New Taipei City Government’s claim that the bridge needs to be renovated and its bases reconstructed.

During the bridge’s renovation in 2000, the city government said that the bridge could last until at least 2050, the group said.

Another examination commissioned by the city government from 2010 to 2011 also said the bridge was safe and did not need reconstruction, it added.

Wang said he suspected that the city government’s claims were meant to deceive and divert the public’s attention from its intention to tear down the bridge.

He added that any renovation or reconstruction might only make the bridge unsafe.

Liou Gin-show (劉俊秀), a professor at National Chiao Tung University’s Department of Civil Engineering, said that “aging” was not a problem for the bridge’s concrete structure.

As to having the cables replaced with new ones if the bridge’s bases have to be moved, Liou said the cables had already been changed during the renovation in 2000, and changing them again this year would be a waste of money.

Moving the bases closer to the river would also exert more pressure on the bridge’s towers, so that would mean having to reconstruct the bridge, he added.

National Taiwan University professor and TEPU member Kao Cheng-yan (高成炎) said the group would hold a Bitan suspension bridge photo competition, inviting people to submit photos of the bridge that may possibly go into history this year.

In response to the group’s allegation, the New Taipei City Government said that it has no plans at the moment of tearing down the suspension bridge.
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Old February 7th, 2013, 08:47 AM   #303
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Thu, Feb 07, 2013
Huaguang residents want a plan
URBAN RENEWAL : Huaguang Community residents protested yesterday, saying they have repeatedly been promised that they would be resettled, but it has not happened
Taipei Times

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Dozens of Huaguang Community (華光社區) residents and their supporters yesterday demonstrated outside the Executive Yuan in Taipei, asking it to come up with a plan to help them resettle and to withdraw lawsuits against them instead of threatening them with eviction to make way for an urban renewal project.

Located near Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Huaguang Community is a neighborhood of about 60 households, mostly made up of low-ranking soldiers who fled the Chinese Civil War with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime in 1949 and their descendants.

While the land on which the community is located is the property of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), most of residents have lived there for decades — and some non-Mainlander families have even been there for generations — without any problems.

With the word “home” written upside-down on red posters, symbolizing that their homes have collapsed because of the government’s eviction order, as well as lawsuits demanding millions of NT dollars from each household in compensation for occupying government property, the economically disadvantaged community residents rallied outside the Executive Yuan, asking it to seek a solution to their problems.

In the early 2000s, the government presented an urban renewal project and asked the predominantly economically disadvantaged families to move away, triggering a number of protests.

Although city and central government officials — including President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), when he served as mayor of Taipei — have made repeated promises to help residents resettle, what they eventually received was not a resettlement plan, but lawsuits over illegal occupation brought by the ministry, and a demand for millions of NT dollars in compensation from each household.

“How am I supposed to pay?” 73-year-old Chiu Chun-hsiung (邱春雄) said yesterday. “I’m old, ill and poor. I don’t have money, I can no longer work and I have no place to go.”

Chiu said that he has lived in the community for more than 40 years in a house that his parents passed down to him.

“I don’t know how my parents got the house, but during the decades I’ve lived there, I’ve always had power, running water and a house number, and I’ve paid real-estate tax every year,” Chiu said. “How was I supposed to know that I was living there illegally? Why didn’t you [the government] tell me earlier, when I was younger and able to work, to find another place to live?”

Chiu added that, besides worrying about where to go, what really troubles him is that the court has frozen his bank account and he has no money for the Lunar New Year.

“Most of the residents here are soldiers who followed the KMT government to Taiwan. The government allowed them to live here at the time and all of a sudden, the government says that it’s illegal for them to live here, asking them to leave and pay millions of NT dollars. How cruel is that?” another resident surnamed Chu (朱) said. “This is a historical issue that the government needs to take care of.”

Hsu Yi-fu (徐亦甫), a political science student at National Taiwan University who has long been helping Huaguang residents, urged the government to take a broader view on the issue, since this is not an isolated case.

Hsu said that when the KMT retreated to Taiwan, they brought millions of soldiers and civilians from China with them, and settled these people in “temporary” housing quarters similar to Huaguang Community around the country.

“They may not have lived in these places ‘legally,’ but because of the unique historic background of these living quarters, the resettlement of these residents should be given special considerations,” Hsu said.

“The central and local governments should stop holding each other responsible for solving the issue,” he added.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 05:55 PM   #304
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Thu, Feb 07, 2013
Editorial: Save the nation’s historical buildings
Taipei Times



The fire that damaged the National Taiwan University’s (NTU) Japanese-style wooden dormitory on Taipei’s Heping E Road early yesterday morning stands as a sharp reminder as to how little attention and care is given to the maintenance and preservation of the nation’s many historic buildings.

Although the blaze was put out in time, sparing the nearby residence of late philosophy professor and democracy pioneer Yin Hai-guang (殷海光), the close call has many historians and concerned parties anxious over the damage that might have occurred to the historical structure and the valuable documents archived at the historical site that once housed the nation’s premier liberalist, who made a significant and long-lasting contribution to the development of liberalism in the country.

Despite a denial from NTU secretary-general Chang Pei-jen (張培仁), the blaze, reported at 12:24am, has raised some eyebrows amid rumors that developers have been eyeing the plot for a development project.

While police, who have not ruled out arson, investigate the cause of the fire, relevant government agencies should take a more active role to better preserve and care for the nation’s many old buildings and landmarks that are rich in Taiwanese culture and history.

The public has good reason to be worried, considering the slew of news reports that suggest cultural and historical sites are being pushed aside to make way for development.

Last month, New Taipei City’s (新北市) Yingge District (鶯歌) — known as the birthplace of the nation’s pottery and ceramics industry — saw a 90-year-old oval-shaped kiln and its smokestack knocked down by a construction company, which owns the site, as well as another square-shaped kiln and its brick-built chimney that had stood for more than 50 years. The area, once dotted with more than 300 high-rise kiln smokestacks, is now left with fewer than a score of them.

Reports of similar demolitions of buildings and houses with historical value have also shocked and saddened many local residents, historians and cultural preservationists, as in the case of demolitions of Japanese colonial era kilns carried out by the Miaoli County Government for urban development projects and in Taichung, where a 114-year-old house was torn down by excavators in the middle of the night.

Sporadic cases of historical houses consumed by fire have also occurred, the causes of which remain unsolved to this day.

The list of enduring landmarks and historical buildings that became rubble because of negligence by management agencies has many wondering how long the government is going to sit idly by while more of the nation’s collective history and priceless local heritage are wiped from the face of the Earth.

No one says it is an easy task tackling the dilemma of development versus preservation. However, the lack of importance the government attaches to the nation’s valuable historical sites is demonstrated by the ineffective laws on preservation and caring for their maintenance. It appears preservation almost always ends up on the losing side.

Taiwanese historical culture must be preserved so that future generations will be able to appreciate it.
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Old February 19th, 2013, 02:57 PM   #305
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Tue, Feb 19, 2013
Opening Wugu overpass delayed
CAUSE FOR DELAY : The Ministry of Transportation and Communications said it had not been able to find people to work on the overpass during the holidays
Taipei Times

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications will not meet its deadline for the opening of the Wugu-Yangmei Overpass (五楊高架橋) as it confirmed yesterday that the section of the overpass between Wugu (五股) and Jhongli (中壢) will not be ready for the Lantern Festival this weekend.

The overpass connecting Wugu in New Taipei City (新北市) and Yangmei (楊梅) in Taoyuan County is about 40km long. It will run parallel to Freeway No. 1 to ease congestion during peak hours.

The ministry managed to make the section between Jhungli and Yangmei — about 12km long — available to traffic in mid-December last year. It then set the goal of making the rest of the overpass ready before the Lunar New Year holiday.

The ministry said it would not be able to meet that goal because of inclement weather and a shortage of workers.

Former minister of transportation and communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國), now vice premier, said earlier this month that the ministry would strive to complete safety inspections of the overpass during the Lunar New Year holiday and would open the section to traffic before the Lantern Festival this year.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時), who took office yesterday, said that the ministry is scheduled to have the entire Wugu-Yangmei Overpass open to traffic by the beginning next month.

“We could not find workers willing to work during the Lunar New Year holiday, so we were behind schedule during that period,” Yeh said. “We hope that we can quickly catch up and have the overpass operational by the beginning of March.”

National Expressway Engineering Bureau chief engineer Lu Jieh-bin (呂介斌) said that the bureau is scheduled to finish constructing the overpass this week.

He said that the work needs to pass safety inspections conducted by the ministry, adding that the entire overpass should be open for traffic either at the end of this month or the beginning of next month.

In related news, the Directorate General of Highways will start restricting access today to the section of Suhua Highway near the 115.8km milepost to continue unfinished construction.

The directorate said that only one lane would be open for two-way traffic, adding that vehicles must observe a speed limit of 25kph when passing through this section.

Large passenger or cargo vehicles must also keep a distance of 50m, it added.

The directorate closed the section in December last year as the road was severely eroded by heavy rain.

Two-way traffic on the section resumed on Jan. 30 to facilitate the trips of homebound travelers for the Lunar New Year holiday.

The directorate said that construction is scheduled to be completed by the end of May, adding that weather conditions would be a crucial factor in completing the work.
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Old February 23rd, 2013, 05:44 AM   #306
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Sat, Feb 23, 2013
Taipei’s Twin Towers project collapses
HOBBLED HUB : The project is to be the main hub for six railway and MRT lines, but imploded when the developer did not meet the deadline to furnish a bond
Taipei Times




Additional Info from Apple Daily : C1 building to be 56 floors, D1 building to be 76 floors, usage includes offices, mall, and hotel


Cooperation between the Taipei City Government and a multinational consortium on the Taipei Twin Towers project next to the Taipei Railway Station collapsed yesterday when the developer failed to furnish a NT$1.89 billion (US$63.7 million) performance bond.

Taipei City Department of Rapid Transit Systems (DORTS) Commissioner Richard Chen (陳椿亮) confirmed that the consortium, led by Taipei Gateway International Development (太極雙星), has lost its bid for the project and said the city government will start negotiating the contract with the second-priority bidder, BES Engineering Corp (中華工程), to continue with the project’s development.

The NT$70 billion project is one of the most expensive development projects in Taiwan. The collapse of the cooperation came amid speculation that Taipei Gateway International Development is experiencing financial difficulties.

The company had promised to wire US$100 million to the department’s designated bank account by midnight on Thursday to secure the contract and prove its financial strength. It sent a copy of a wire transfer record via fax to the department at 11:42pm on Thursday as confirmation that it paid the performance bond.

Chen and the department had expressed optimism about the cooperation after receiving the fax. However, the department checked with the Taipei Fubon Bank (台北富邦銀行) yesterday morning and found that no money had been transferred to the account.

“It is a requirement for the developer to pay the performance bond to enter into the contract. Since it has failed to do so by the deadline, we will move on to discuss the contract with the second bidder and continue with the procedures. Whether the company had financial difficulty in paying the amount is not our concern,” Chen told a press conference.

The consortium, composed of Taipei Gateway International Development, and IGB and Mid Valley City, both from Malaysia, won the first-priority bid in October last year to develop the two high-rise buildings, which are to serve as the main hub for the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport MRT line to Taipei and five other railway and MRT lines.

However, since the consortium won the priority, allegations about the company’s financial strength, qualification and bribery have cast a shadow over the project.

Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City Councilor Wang Shi-chien (王世堅) lashed out at the city government, saying it was covering up for the company.

He urged Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) to apologize for the collapsed cooperation, and demanded that Chen and related department heads take full responsibility and tender their resignations.

“The cooperation is a scheme and the city government has clearly been covering up for the company. Now that the bidding process has proved to be a farce, Hau’s team has lost its credibility and must take full responsibility for the ridiculous project,” Wang said.

Hau declined to comment on the incident and said the department would follow standard procedures in handling the contract.

Chen said the department would reflect on the bidding process and administrative responsibility, but declined to say whether he would offer to resign over the collapsed cooperation.

The project, initiated by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) during his term as Taipei mayor in 2004, suffered four failed bidding processes until the consortium won the first-priority bid in October last year.

The developer had planned to complete the twin towers in 2018, but the latest setback would cause the project to be delayed by at least three months.
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Last edited by hkskyline; February 23rd, 2013 at 05:52 AM.
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Old February 25th, 2013, 04:34 AM   #307
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Mon, Feb 25, 2013
DORTS head offers to quit over Twin Towers delay
Taipei Times

Taipei City Department of Rapid Transit Systems (DORTS) Commissioner Richard Chen (陳椿亮) yesterday tendered his resignation over the indefinite delay of the Taipei Twin Towers project due to the first-priority bidder’s failure to furnish a performance bond.

The international consortium led by Taipei Gateway International Development Corporation won the bid in October last year for the NT$70 billion (US$2.36 billion) development project, but was disqualified 110 days later because it failed to provide guarantee funds of NT$1.89 billion by Thursday.

The collapsed cooperation between the city government and the consortium raised concerns over the bidding process, while Taipei City councilors urged DORTS, which handles the development project, and city officials to be held accountable.

Chen said he offered his resignation to take political responsibility for the collapsed cooperation with the consortium, but dismissed allegations that the city government preferred the consortium and helped it win the bid.

“We followed legal procedures in the bidding process, and the development project will continue because we will discuss the contract with second-priority bidder. As a city official, I am willing to take the political responsibility for the failed cooperation,” Chen said.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) confirmed he had received Chen’s resignation, but did not discuss whether he had approved the resignation.

“We are looking at the administrative responsibilities of related departments over the failure to sign the contract with the first-priority bidder. The project is not the only reason for the change of city officials. It has been our plan to have a small-scale personnel reshuffle recently,” he said.

It is not clear why the winning consortium led by Malaysia-based IGB Corp Bhd and Mid Valley City Sdn Bhd failed to make the deposit, he said, but speculated that it might have been due to internal problems.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Wang Shi-chien (王世堅) also called for the resignation of Finance Department Commissioner Chiu Da-chan (邱大展), the city’s Department of Legal Affairs Commissioner Tsai Li-wen (蔡立文), Department of Public Works Commissioner Chang Pei-yi (張培義) and Department of Urban Development Commissioner Ting Yu-chun (丁育群) because they were all on the project review committee.

The city government will complete a personnel reshuffle next month in the wake of the appointment of former Taipei deputy mayor Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁) as Executive Yuan secretary-general, Hau said.

Department of Transportation Commissioner Jason Lin (林志盈) will also leave Hau’s team after he announced last week that he would retire from the post.

Additional reporting by CNA
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Old March 1st, 2013, 05:41 PM   #308
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Fri, Mar 01, 2013
Wugu-Yangmei overpass to finally open on March 11
Taipei Times

The entire Wugu-Yangmei overpass (五楊高架橋) will open on March 11, Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said on Wednesday.

The 40km overpass is constructed alongside the Sun Yat-sen Freeway to ease peak-hour congestion between Taipei and Taoyuan, as well as between Jhongli (中壢) and Yangmei (楊梅). The ministry opened the 12km long Jhongli-Yangmei section in December last year.

The 28km section between Wugu and Jhongli — 28km in distance — was originally scheduled to open before the Lunar New Year holiday, but inclement weather and a labor shortage prevented the work from being finished on time, causing the ministry to repeatedly postpone the official opening of the entire overpass.

The ministry’s Department of Railways and Highways has arranged to have a final safety inspection of the overpass’ Wugu-Jhongli section today.

Yeh said on Wednesday that the ministry would hold an inauguration ceremony for the overpass on March 10. The overpass will officially be opened to traffic on March 11.

The National Expressway Engineering Bureau, which is building the overpass, estimated that it would help reduce driving time in peak hours by about 20 minutes.

The bureau is banning large cargo trucks from using the overpass, which is also equipped with the nation’s first high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane.

The lane can only be used by vehicles carrying more than three people.

Meanwhile, Yeh said the ministry would likely launch a trial run exempting drivers on the east-west national freeways from toll fees after the ministry begins implementing a “pay-as-you-go” policy this year. Yeh said that polls by the National Freeway Bureau showed that a majority of freeway users still opposed the plan to include the east-west national freeways in the policy, because some serve as important regional commuting routes. However, some transportation experts suggested that the ministry implement the policy first and make gradual improvements later.

Yeh said that complementary measures must be in place if the policy does not apply to the east-west freeways.

“The Freeway Construction Fund (國道建設基金) would be reduced by about NT$2 billion (US$67.5 million) a year if the freeways running east to west are excluded from the policy, which might mean the nation would not have enough funds to build another freeway,” Yeh said.

Nevertheless, Yeh said that the ministry was considering having a trial operation for two or three years exempting drivers on east-west national freeways from toll-fees to observe if there is any change in freeway user behavior. The ministry can also use that time to test how sensitive drivers are to toll fees if they are charged at different rates in peak hours and off-peak hours.
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 05:19 AM   #309
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AIT rebuts charges of dust, noise at office construction site
The China Post news staff and CNA
March 3, 2013, 12:03 am TWN

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) has received no complaints about noise and dust allegedly caused by the construction of its new office compound in Taipei's Neihu District, a spokesman said yesterday.

Work on the new AIT office has been proceeding in accordance with local regulations, said AIT Taipei Office spokesman Mark Zimmer in an interview.

His remarks were prompted by opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Hsueh Ling, who said earlier in the day that she has received petitions from Neihu residents about inconveniences caused by the construction.

Contrary to earlier promises by the AIT, the site — once covered in lush vegetation — has become not much more than a muddy mess, Hsueh said.

Neihu residents have complained to her, saying that construction on the office has not adhered to any meaningful vegetative conservation standards.

She further quoted Neihu residents as complaining that although the topsoil at the construction site has been covered by tarpaulin, muddy water and silt often flood the vicinity on rainy days.

Hsueh said that comparing before and after satellite images of the construction site makes clear the severe loss of vegetation.

“Neihu constituents have complained that hillside land preparation for the AIT office construction has caused heavy dust and noise in the area,” Hsueh said.

Piles of clay dug out from hillside land have also caused safety concerns, Hsueh went on.

“Worse yet, it seems to me that the completion date for the AIT construction project will be further deferred,” she added.

Zimmer responded, however, that the AIT Taipei Office, which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties, has never received similar complaints from local residents.

He also said that the project has been progressing as scheduled and in accordance with Taiwan's laws and regulations.

Under the AIT's two-stage plan, the first phase focuses on building a flood pool and other facilities, with construction of office buildings to take place in the second stage.

Zimmer said the US$216 million construction project is scheduled for completion in 2015.

The compound will use locally produced solar panels as a partial source of its electricity supply, according to AIT officials.

AIT Director Christopher J. Marut was earlier quoted by local reports as saying that the U.S. envoy's new site will preserve most of the original vegetation, adding that a rainwater collection system will be part of the new building.

The building will also have one of the largest solar energy panels in Taipei, generating some 300,000 kilowatt-hours, Marut said.

The AIT is expected to begin operating out of the new site in summer 2015.

According to an examination report conducted by the Taipei City Government's Geotechnical Engineering Office (台北市工程處) last July, the construction site did not include protective measures for the mounds of earth around the perimeter of the site, nor to preserve vegetation; thus the office requested the AIT to improve its conservation of water and soil in order to manage heavy rain.
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 08:27 PM   #310
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Sat, Mar 02, 2013
Capital’s residents enjoy benefits of parks project
BLOSSOMING : A Taipei scheme has let residents enjoy greenery on their doorsteps, with trees and plants covering at least 60 percent of many parks in the city
Taipei Times

For those who wish to enjoy cherry blossoms in Taipei, the Yangmingshan National Park (陽明山國家公園) is no longer the only destination, following a project led by the Taipei City Government which has overseen the renovation of 251 community parks, including the planting of cherry trees and flowers, transforming the parks into scenic gardens for residents.

For example, Yongjing Park in Zhongshan District (中山) now has 22 cherry trees which have been planted since 2004, with 90 percent of them currently in bloom.

The park is one of 251 of the city’s parks that were included in a community renovation project with a budget of NT$580 million (US$1.9 million) allocated to improve green spaces.

Under the project, districts are encouraged to apply for subsidies to replace worn-out facilities, plant more greenery and redesign community spaces.

Zhongshan District head Ho Hsi-hsiung (何喜雄) said he purchased Taiwanese cherry trees (台灣山櫻) and Yoshino cherry trees (吉野櫻) and planted them in Yongjing Park to allow residents to enjoy cherry blossoms near their homes.

In Songshan District (松山), six community parks have become popular recreational areas for residents, with cherry blossoms and maple trees attracting people who come to enjoy the flowers and greenery on a daily basis.

Taipei City’s Department of Civil Affairs Commissioner Huang Lu Ching-ju (黃呂錦茹) said the department instructed Taipei districts to participate in the renovation project and stipulated that each park should be least 60 percent covered in greenery following renovation.

While inspecting Yongjing Park yesterday, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said the city government will continue its efforts to improve community parks and turn Taipei into a greener city.

“With these beautiful community parks, Taipei residents can enjoy cherry blossoms near their homes or offices. We hope these parks will be like backyard gardens to our residents,” the mayor said.
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Old March 11th, 2013, 03:25 PM   #311
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Sat, Mar 09, 2013
Inspection of Shilin project site canceled after protests
Taipei Times



Supporters and opponents of a controversial urban renewal project in Shilin District (士林), Taipei, yesterday engaged in heated exchanges as both sides rallied at the project site awaiting an inspection by the Taipei High Administrative Court — which was eventually canceled.

Dozens of people supporting or opposing the Wenlin Yuan (文林苑) urban renewal project gathered at the project site, as the Taipei High Administrative Court was to inspect the site in preparation for the demolition of the temporary housing the Wang (王) family and their supporters have built.

“The Wangs have lost the court case, the government should quickly move to tear down the illegal building on the project site, so the construction may resume and we can go home earlier,” said Hsieh Chun-chiao (謝春嬌), a representative of the 36 households who agreed to the renewal project.

Hsieh said they had agreed to take part in the urban renewal project because it was backed by the city government.

“We trusted the government, so we agreed to have our houses torn down in exchange for new housing units after the project is completed,” Hsieh said. “We’ve waited for years and we don’t know how long we will still have to wait before we can go home.”

Wang Kuang-shu (王廣樹), a member of the Wang family, disagreed, saying that there were still ongoing lawsuits concerning the project, “hence the construction should not be resumed until everything is solved.”

While the two sides insisted on their own views and had verbal exchanges, the standoff remained peaceful.

The dispute arose when the Wangs, who own two townhouses on a block included in a urban renewal project initiated by Le Young Construction Co, opposed the project and refused to have their houses torn down, while 36 other households on the block agreed to the project.

In March last year, the Taipei City Government demolished the two houses owned by the Wangs by force.

However, the Wangs and their supporters built a temporary house on the site, and the construction remains suspended as several lawsuits concerning the project are still ongoing.

The court later decided to cancel the inspection, worrying that it could trigger more intense clashes between the two sites.
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Old March 15th, 2013, 04:54 AM   #312
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Taipei City gov't yet to forfeit Twin Towers bidder's deposit
The China Post
March 13, 2013, 12:15 am TWN

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taipei City yesterday said the disqualified Twin Towers bidder's bid bond of NT$130 million has yet to be forfeited, as the city government is still dealing with administrative procedures with the bidder — Taipei Gateway International Development Co., Ltd. (TGID, 太極雙星).

Tsay Huel-sheng (蔡輝昇), Department of Rapid Transit Systems (DORTS, 捷運局) commissioner, said the bid bond is a considerably large sum of money, thus the procedures must be verified by the Department of Legal Affairs (法務局), Department of Finance (財政局) and the city before the government officially forfeits TGID's bond.

Tsay said the city government will contact the second-place bidder, BES Engineering Corp. (BES, 中華工程), only when the city government has completed all interactions with the first-place bidder.

Earlier in mid-February the TGID, the construction consortium that won the bid to construct the Taipei Twin Towers project, failed to deposit the required performance guarantee of NT$1.89 billion.

Tsay said the city government will finalize the case before the end of March at the earliest.

BES Can Refuse City's Adjustments

Tsay said there is no timetable for when the city government will officially contact BES. “We must wait until we terminate relations with TGID,” Tsay said.

Once the city government officially sends a letter to BES, the construction consortium must respond within 30 days before signing the contract, Tsay said.

Tsay said if the city government proposes adjustments to BES' construction proposal, which require the firm to change the details of its original proposal, then the firm has the right to not accept the changes.

Under this potential scenario, Tsay said even if the bidder does not sign the contract with the city, the city has to return the bid bond to the bidder.

Tsay said in order to ensure the Twin Towers project's construction details tally with the city government's expectations, the DORTS and the other departments in the city government will review BES' proposal cautiously.

Tsay stressed that “the DORTS will not be the only decision maker on the Twin Towers project.”

Tsay said the city government will pay attention to the second-place bidder's financial status regarding its capability to construct the Twin Towers project.
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Old March 17th, 2013, 06:27 AM   #313
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Sun, Mar 17, 2013
Group protests Losheng Sanatorium demolition
Taipei Times



More than 1,000 people from across the country took to the streets in Taipei yesterday, calling on the government to halt the construction of a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) maintenance depot on the site of the partially demolished Losheng (Happy Life) Sanatorium, and to rebuild the sanatorium complex.

During the protest, a group of 120 people wearing white T-shirts and yellow headbands that read “Defend Losheng” walked in time with each drum beat and, at the sound of a cymbal, knelt down and touched the ground with their foreheads.

It was not a group of ascetic monks, but rather a group of Lo-sheng Sanatorium preservation activists who were trying to attract public attention for their cause.

The sanatorium in Sinjhuang District (新莊), New Taipei City (新北市), was built in the 1930s to house people with Hansen’s disease (also known as leprosy), a disease at the time believed to be highly contagious and incurable.

Decades after its completion, residents who lived in the complex were forced to move as the Taipei City Department of Rapid Transit Systems (DORTS) planned to demolish the sanatorium complex and build a maintenance depot for the Sinjhuang MRT line.

The plan was met with strong opposition from Losheng residents and preservation activists.

However, the government decided to continue the construction after proposing an adjusted plan in 2007 that would preserve a small part of the complex while demolishing the rest.

In 2010, the preservation movement was revived after a series of landslides near the construction site — which the preservationists had already warned on — which led several times to the suspension of construction.

Although DORTS is yet to propose a plan to solve the landslide issue, construction was resumed earlier this month after being suspended for about a year, causing concerns among activists and residents that the hill on which the sanatorium is built may collapse.

“I was indifferent to the issue years ago when activists campaigned for the preservation of Losheng Sanatorium, but when I had a chance to learn more about the issue, I became upset at myself for not realizing the importance at the time,” said Lin Kun-chang, a Sinjhuang resident taking part in the parade group. “I volunteered to join the ascetic group to make up for my past ignorance, and I hope that more people who are as indifferent as I was will become aware.”

Following the group was a large flag with the logo of the sanatorium held up by a dozen demonstrators, Losheng residents in wheelchairs, members of civic and student groups, as well as participants from all over the nation.

“In 2010, the [maintenance depot] construction was suspended because of a landslide. A year later, DORTS said they were better prepared and resumed the construction. However, within six months, the construction had to be halted again because of another landslide,” said Wang Wei-min (王偉民), a civil engineer and a long-time supporter of the preservation movement. “The same thing has happened over and over again. We no longer trust DORTS.”

“When you make enough mistakes, your boss may simply fire you — as masters of the nation, we certainly have the right to tell DORTS to stop,” he added.

When the parade reached the DORTS headquarters, the crowd shouted: “Face the mistakes, move the depot” and stuck hundreds of stickers that read “DORTS lies” onto the plaque bearing the agency’s name outside the building.

After arriving at Ketagalan Boulevard, the crowd chanted slogans and sang songs asking the government to take its responsibility and halt the construction.

On behalf of his peers, Losheng resident Tang Hsiang-ming (湯祥明) thanked the participants for their support along the way.
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Old March 18th, 2013, 05:42 PM   #314
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Reopened Fuji fish market improves transparency: gov't
The China Post
March 10, 2013, 12:13 am TWN





TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The New Taipei City Government touted enhanced price transparency as one of the key improvements at Fuji Harbor, as its renowned seafood market in Northern Taiwan reopened recently after renovations.

The government requested seafood sellers at Fuji Harbor Fish Market to offer customers three sets of scales and to improve kitchen transparency to ensure that they will not be cheated by vendors.

After months of work at the harbor, New Taipei City Agriculture Department Commissioner Liao Jung-ching (廖榮清) said the fish market now consists of two blocks: fresh food in A block and a food court in B block.

Tourists can buy fresh seafood from A block and ask restaurants in B block to cook it for them, Liao said, and then can dine on it in the food court.

Liao said the market had lost its credibility due to its failure to clearly mark prices, and due to tourists' concerns that restaurants would not serve them the complete amount of seafood handed over to be cooked.

As part of the relaunch, Liao said the city government demanded sellers place scales at public areas in A block to allow buyers to ensure they receive the amount that they pay for.

If customers believe they have been shortchanged, they can report the vendor to the city government, Liao said. At first the government will issue a warning, but if the vendor reoffends they may be prohibited from operating in the market.

Liao went on to say that it was his idea to establish transparent kitchens at the restaurants, giving diners the chance to monitor how their seafood is cooked.

“It will (also) be fun to look at the cooking process,” Liao said.

New Taipei's Agriculture Department said there are 42 sellers in A-block, including 36 stores selling fresh seafood, six selling dried seafood and souvenirs. There are six restaurants in B block.

Liao said the department is working with the Transportation Department to establish a weekend shuttle bus route between the Tamsui MRT Station and Fuji Harbor Fish Market.

One-day tour packages around the North Coast are also being considered.
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Old March 22nd, 2013, 09:10 PM   #315
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Vincent Callebaut Architectures shares exclusive identity of 100m-high Agora Garden residential tower now under construction

Agora Garden, an inhabited and cultivated vertical garden in the Xinyin District of Taipei, is currently under construction. A competition for the project was won by Vincent Callebaut Architectures in 2010 with a design inspired by two encircling hands clasped together and the helical structure of DNA. Once completed the 42,335 sq m luxury residential building will incorporate nanotechnologies and vertical gardening into the residents’ everyday life to make this one of the most eco-friendly structures in the city.

One of the more visually arresting aspects of this ambitious project is the 90 degree twist of the tower, the sinuosity of which, the practice explains, ‘corresponds to the universal musical symbol of harmonic revealing the notion of ultimate balance praised by the project’. The result is such that the shape of the structure morphs depending on where the onlooker is standing, for example its east/west elevations draw a rhomboidal pyramid whereas the north/south elevation is a reverse pyramid.

Vincent Callebaut Architectures says of the design: “Neither single tower, nor twin towers, the project arises towards the sky with two helicoidal towers gathering themselves around a central core. This architectural party offers a hyper-compacted core and a maximal flexibility of the housing storeys (with the possibility to unify two apartment units in one without any footbridge). It brings a multiplication of view angles towards the urban landscape and a hyper-abundance of suspended gardens.”

These suspended gardens not only bring an aesthetic appeal to the Agora Garden project but will provide the building’s residents with orchards, organic vegetable gardens, aromatic gardens and medicinal plants. The vertically-wide planted balconies will be accessible for all residents and will also include rain water tanks for the irrigation of the suspended gardens, nests for birdlife, composting facilities for converting waste into fertilizer and garden furniture for their own enjoyment. The planting beds are to be covered by a layer of white natural stone to protect the foliage from excess heat.

To enter the Agora Garden property, users will pass through a cluster of mature trees and cross a mineral moat which will be installed to enhance the privacy of residents. In the Conceptual Design Proposal, the architects explain: “In the heart of the vegetable lung, the pedestrian square opens itself on a mineral and aquatic glade.” Plants that cascade into the lower basements are provided with sunlight which penetrates through a circular light well that also illuminates the car parks, swimming pool and fitness centre.

The location of these luxury 'sky houses' means that residents will have exquisite views of the C. Y. Lee & Partners and Thornton Tomasetti-designed 101 Taipei tower and the city’s Central Business District. Once the project is completed in 2016, the residential units on offer will give much flexibility to potential inhabitants. The fixed central core separates the vertical circulations with the towers rotated storey by storey at 4.5 degrees. Each 540 sq m apartment is entirely free of columns as the levels are connected at both ends by two spiralling mega-columns coated in green walls, ensuring optimum living conditions for residents.

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Old March 22nd, 2013, 09:25 PM   #316
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^ That looks so much better than the 2 twin hotel towers they torn down recently.
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Old March 23rd, 2013, 05:21 PM   #317
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Mayor says no to Taipei casino proposal
By Lauly Li, The China Post
March 21, 2013, 12:02 am TWN

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday told U.S.-Taiwan Business Council representatives that there is very little chance of developing a gambling center in the city.

U.S.-Taiwan Business Council Chairman Paul D. Wolfowitz visited Hau with council President Rupert J. Hammond-Chambers and HP's Vice President of Government Affairs for Asia Pacific and Japan Elizabeth Hernandez, as well as David Katz, Visa's head of Government Relations for North Asia Region.

Hammond-Chambers asked Hau if there is a possibility of allowing foreign investment to develop a casino industry in Taipei.

Singapore took a conservative approach when investing in its casino industry, Hammond-Chambers said, adding that it was a US$2 billion investment, and that the industry has attracted more investment and tourists to Singapore.

Hammond-Chambers said that as far as he is concerned, the industry has generated significant revenues for Singapore.

In response, Hau said “the chance (of casinos in Taipei) is very slim.”

He said that Taipei's population density is incredibly high, adding that even if the government can find a place for casino, “as far as I know, Taipei citizens don't want it.”
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Old March 24th, 2013, 01:44 AM   #318
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wow!!! beautiful pictures!!
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Old April 8th, 2013, 10:55 AM   #319
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Tue, Apr 02, 2013
October launch for Airport Rail will not be met: Yeh
WAITING FOR THE TRAIN : Contractor Marubeni Corp had a deadline of June, was given an extension to October, and is now facing a fine of up to NT$12.5 million a day
Taipei Times

Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) yesterday confirmed that the Airport Rail would not be launched in October as planned, adding that the government will seek compensation from the contractor for the construction delays.

The Airport Rail was originally scheduled to become operational by June. Marubeni Corp, the Japanese contractor for the rail’s electro-mechanical system, asked for an extension of the deadline to next year due to disputes with its subcontractor, but the Bureau of High Speed Rail, which oversees the rail line construction, only extended the deadline to October.

However, Yeh said that the contractor would fail to meet its deadline again.

“Judging from the situation, it is not possible for the rail to be completed by October and the official launch of the Airport Rail would have to be postponed,” Yeh said.

Yeh said that the ministry would seek compensation from the contractor if it misses the deadline this time. He said that the terms of the contract state that Marubeni would face a daily penalty of one-two thousandth of the NT$25 billion (US$840 million) construction cost, or NT$12.5 million a day.

The entire penalty could top NT$2.5 billion, he said, adding that the contractor is entitled to appeal. The penalty could be paid by deducting it from the payment due to the contractor after construction is complete, he said.

Asked when the Airport Rail could be launched, Yeh said that the ministry would determine that in one or two weeks.

Meanwhile, the delay in the Airport Rail construction made Yeh the target of criticism at the legislature’s Transportation Committee meeting yesterday, where he was scheduled to brief lawmakers about the budget for the Seaport Development Fund for the next fiscal year.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) said that the ministry apparently has a problem executing the nation’s major construction projects efficiently, because it has failed to launch both the Wugu-Yangmei Overpass and Airport Rail on time.

Chinese National Party (KMT) Legislator Luo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) questioned how Marubeni secured the contract, saying it had questionable qualifications in the first place, and asked the ministry to investigate.

In response, Yeh said that it was regrettable that the Wugu-Yangmei Express could not become operational as scheduled. Regarding the Airport Rail, Yeh said that bureau has been actively addressing the problems with the contractor since they were found.

“We believe the contractors in the construction projects, including Marubeni, Kawasaki and Hitachi, will settle this problem as soon as possible to safeguard their reputations,” Yeh said, adding that the contract with Marubeni was signed before he took office.

Ministry of Transportation and Communications officials estimated that it might take from three months to almost a year to finish testing the system, which is about 51.3km long.

Should the Public Construction Commission determine that Marubeni was at fault, the Japanese contractor would be blacklisted and banned from bidding for public construction projects in Taiwan for one year, the officials said.
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Old April 14th, 2013, 04:57 AM   #320
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Sat, Apr 13, 2013
Minister critical of delays in Airport Rail construction
Taipei Times

Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) yesterday said the ministry hopes that the Airport Rail service can be launched sometime before October next year, adding that even that was a challenging goal.

Yeh made the statement in an interview with Voice of Taipei program host Clara Chou (周玉蔻) in the morning.

The ministry under Yeh’s leadership came under severe criticism recently for failing to meet its self-designated deadlines for major public construction projects it has led, including the Wugu-Yangmei Overpass and the Airport Rail. It was also blamed for traffic congestion on freeways during the Tomb Sweeping holiday last week.

Yeh said that the ministry had already postponed the official launch of the Airport Rail from June this year to October next year.

An issue with Marubeni Corp, which is in charge of construction of the Airport Rail’s electromechanical systems, could cause the ministry to postpone the launch again, he said.

“The ministry cannot accept the official operation date proposed by Marubeni,” Yeh said. “Our hope is that the system will not be delayed for too long. It would be great if the system could be launched within one year of October, but that would be a challenging task.”

Yeh added that the Airport Rail’s electromechanical systems were built by Marubeni, Hitachi and Kawasaki.

He said that the ministry had asked Hitachi and Kawasaki, which are both technically strong, to help Marubeni overcome any issues, because all three would be blamed for any construction delays.

“We will determine if the new deadline for launching the Airport Rail proposed by Marubeni is practical and viable,” Yeh said. “We will not be messed around by Marubeni.”

Asked why the the contractor had been assigned the project, Yeh said the contract was signed in 2006 and the ministry could now only enforce the terms of the contract even it was imperfect. He said that investigations by prosecutors had found no evidence that Marubeni had been assigned the contract illegally, but he said that there was room for improvement in terms of contractor selection.

Regarding freeway congestion during the Tomb Sweeping holiday, Yeh said that he would not censure National Freeway Bureau Director-General Tseng Dar-jen (曾大仁), even though he was responsible for supervising the bureau.

“I hope that government workers can be proactive,” he said. “Doling out punishment constantly would only cause them to have a mentality of ‘the less one does, the fewer mistakes one makes.’”

He also paraphrased late British prime minister Margaret Thatcher regarding consensus and decisionmaking, saying, “I am not making decisions based on consensus, but on my beliefs.”

“As a leader, you should have values and beliefs,” he added. “It is simply irresponsible to respond to public criticism by simply giving someone a demerit.”

Yeh also said that Tseng is qualified to lead the bureau because he has produced results in the past.
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