Taipei-The government will complete a comprehensive inspection of eight port bridges throughout Taiwan by the end of the year to ensure public safety, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (???) said Thursday, in the wake of a bridge collapse in Yilan County two days earlier that killed six people.
Any bridges that do not meet safety standards will be closed, Lin told lawmakers in a legislative hearing.
Meanwhile, Wu Tsung-jung (???), chairman of the port management company Taiwan International Ports Corps. (TIPC), has offered to resign, and his offer has been accepted, Lin said, adding that his ministry will purse penalties for any authorities found culpable in the accident.
During the hearing, Wu told lawmakers that the ill-fated Nanfang'ao Bridge in Yilan had not been checked since 2016, when Chien Hsin University of Science and Technology conducted a maintenance inspection that was commissioned by the Yilan County government.
According to government regulations, cement bridges in Taiwan must have maintenance inspections every two years, regardless of when they were built, and those near the sea must be checked every six months.
Apart from Nanfang'ao Bridge, TIPC is responsible for the management of 16 other bridges that are all in port areas throughout the country.
Of that number, eight are in central and southern Taiwan and have never been inspected since they were built, neither have three others that were constructed last year, Wu said.
Nanfang'ao Bridge was opened in 1998 and was under the supervision of Taiwan International Harbor Bureau until 2012, when the bureau was converted into the state-run entity TIPC.
Since 2012, TIPC said, it has spent NT$17.95 million (US$578,000) on maintenance and structural repairs to the bridge, which was at the entrance to the port town of Nanfang'ao in Yilan on Taiwan's northeast coast.
The landmark Nanfang'ao Bridge collapsed at about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, injuring 12 people and killing six migrant workers as it crashed down on fishing boats in the port.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel