The Taipei Dome was originally scheduled to begin trial operations in October.
However, the starting date has again been delayed after the building failed to pass a review by the Ministry of the Interior.
In response to the delay, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and Deputy Minister of the Interior Hua Ching-chun (花敬群) pointed fingers at each other, and Ko even proposed a public debate with Hua.
Soon after Ko was elected in 2014, he launched investigations into what he called the “five major corruptions” of the previous administration and demanded the suspension of the Taipei Dome construction project.
As his second and last term is to end by the end of this year, he has changed his tone and rebranded the “five major corruptions” as the “five major cases.”
At this stage in the game, it is clear who is responsible for the long-term delay.
The Taipei Dome’s smoke exhaust equipment and fire safety system must pass a review, as they are crucial for emergency evacuations and the safety of visitors to events to be held there. Therefore the ministry carefully examined them in accordance with the law, and requested corrections of and explanations for the inadequacies it found.
However, the timetable for the review released by the Taipei City Government was another story entirely.
Despite that the developer, Farglory Group, provided incomplete documents and applied for increasingly far-reaching safety standard exemptions, the city merely tried to avoid this important matter and focused on trivialities instead.
Not long ago, the National Fire Agency issued a statement to refute the city government’s claim that the delay was caused by the ministry, under which the agency operates.
First, the Taipei Dome’s number of applications for exemption from the Standard for Installation of Fire Safety Equipment Based on Use and Occupancy (各類場所消防安全設備設置標準) increased from two to five within five months. According to the required procedures, the latter three applications had to be treated as new cases.
Originally, the developer in June last year filed two applications for exemption for the Taipei Dome Stadium and the Taipei Dome Plaza. Farglory in November filed three more applications for three more sites, including an arts and cultural plaza.
Next, the agency’s review committee held three preliminary meetings — on Aug. 20 last year, and March 18 and May 26 this year — and proposed 24 objections that would require correction or clarification.
The process was not just delayed by committee members’ diligent examination of the applications — including assessments whether they would have a significant effect on evacuation plans and the safety of event visitors — Farglory and its design team are taking excessive time to supply additional data.
After all the data are supplied, they would be submitted for review at a general meeting to be held later this month.
Ko might owe Taiwanese an apology.
Liu Jyh-jian is a retired firefighter at the Taipei City Fire Department.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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