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Premier stresses urgency in retrofit of seismically vulnerable old buildings


Following a briefing by the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) at the weekly meeting of the Cabinet on the results of efforts to seismically retrofit dangerously old structures, Premier Su Tseng-chang said on Thursday that the safety of buildings deserves more scrutiny and attention, as Taiwan sits in a region that suffers frequent earthquakes. An even higher priority are measures taken to reinforce unsafe old buildings, given the comparatively greater risk to lives and property.

Last week the premier finalized a three-year program to seismically retrofit or reconstruct buildings at public high, middle and elementary schools. Between 2020 and 2022, NT$16.6 billion (US$537.7 million) will be invested in guaranteeing the safety of young students by completing the final phase of improvements at such facilities. He pointed out that in addition to addressing the safety aspects of dangerously old structures, reinforcement and reconstruction work benefits other areas, as well, including urban renewal, urban beautification and stimulating domestic demand.

Noting that government agencies have a special responsibility to serve as examples, the premier called for seismic inspections and the retrofitting of old public structures, with priority budgeting to accelerate execution.

As for incentives and rewards, the premier said he has instructed state-owned banks to consider raising loan ratios as a means of encouraging homeowners and businesses to invest in such projects.

The MOI said buildings constructed in 1997 or earlier have weaker seismic-resistance designs, and about 4.1 million homes in Taiwan are over 30 years old. Local authorities will therefore bring in specialists to screen and review the drawings and specifications from the construction and usage licenses for buildings at least six floors high and constructed before December 31, 1999. All costs will be subsidized by the central government.

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