TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Nanfang'ao Bridge in Yilan County’s Su'ao Township, which collapsed on Tuesday (Oct. 1), killing six and injuring 12, had only been independently inspected once in the 21 years since it was constructed.
During his testimony to the Legislative Yuan's Transportation Committee in Taipei, Taiwan International Ports Corp. (TIPC) Chairman Wu Chung-rung (吳宗榮), who resigned after the disaster, said that the bridge had only been inspected once since it opened in 1998. In the 21 years since its completion in the typhoon and earthquake-ridden area, only one independent inspection has been carried out.
After the bridge was finished, its management was handed over to the Taiwan International Harbor Bureau, which never administered an independent inspection. In 2012, the state-run TIPC was created and took over management of the bridge.
When asked by legislators if there had ever been an independent inspection of the ill-fated bridge, Wu said that Yilan County commissioned Taoyuan’s Chien Hsin University of Science and Technology to carry out an inspection in 2016, reported UDN. Ironically, this sole inspection took place because the county had mistakenly thought the bridge was under its jurisdiction, even though it is technically under the control of the TIPC.
The TIPC volunteered the results of its own inspection report on Tuesday. However, it was only a few pages in length and hardly mentioned the state of the bridge's structure, much less the cables, which are at the center of the investigation.
Wu said that although the property rights to the bridge belong to the TIPC, it had always been open for Su'ao Township to use. He added that once he heard Yilan had commissioned the inspection of the bridge in 2016, "The TIPC naturally did not repeat the inspection."
On Thursday (Oct. 3), Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) announced that he had accepted Wu’s resignation. Lin pledged that day that the government would carry out a thorough inspection of eight port bridges across Taiwan by year's end, reported CNA.