MOI plans anti-disaster urban renewal projects

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) will push for urban renewal projects centered on coping with natural disasters in order to achieve the goals of better protecting people’s lives and assets with higher efficiency to accomplish the undertakings. Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) revealed the ambitious plan yesterday after numerous urban renewal projects were stalled by controversies throughout Taiwan.

Lee said the MOI will adopt a new tactic to speed up urban renewal projects focusing on anti-disaster functions. He explained such urban renewal projects with people’s lives and properties at stake are different from the commercial urban renewal projects which were torn and blocked by the fighting among residents and other relevant interest groups like construction companies and real estate developers. Urgent Need There is an urgent need for spearing ahead urban renewal projects considering the countless old buildings that will be unable to deal with strong earthquakes, Lee said. He sent alarming shockwaves in early July when openly stating that Taipei could be devastated if a 6.3-magnitude quake hit the capital, He said a powerful jolt could bring down around 4,000 buildings constructed several decades earlier in Taipei,

Lee, a specialist in civil engineering, recently led a delegation to study anti-disaster policies and practices in Japan which is, like Taiwan, prone to the onslaught of quakes and other natural disasters. He already delivered special reports to the Executive Yuan (Cabinet) and leaders of the ruling Kuomintang last week. President Ma Ying-jeou agreed with Lee’s views and proposals, stressing that such urban renewal projects are not just necessary but the speed must also be accelerated. Premier Jiang Yi-huah has instructed the MOI to start a pilot project at a selected site and then gradually expand the scale of the projects. Minister Lee said that the anti-disaster urban renewal projects will be first implemented in the adjacent twin metropolises of Taipei City and New Taipei City, considering area has the highest population density and the largest number of residential and official buildings constructed under old building codes. Speeding Up He said the MOI will draw up new rules to speed up the process by cutting the administrative red tape entangling and suffocating the ordinary urban renewal projects.

The government will first take the lead to carry out several projects and then let the private sector take over. The MOI will consolidate state land lots to construct new and quake-resistant apartment buildings as temporary shelters to accommodate around 1,000 families at one time for people willing to rebuild their residences. There will also be sweeter incentives like larger construction space in new buildings to encourage residents and real estate developers to take part in urban renewal projects, he said.

Lee said that many ongoing urban renewal projects have been obstructed as developers were “demonized” as profiteering speculators.