Post-quake reconstruction could cost NT$6 billion

The total cost of reconstruction after the February 6 earthquake in the Tainan region might cost up to NT$6 billion (US$180 million), according to estimates published Tuesday after a meeting between the Cabinet and the Tainan and Kaohsiung city governments.
The 6.4-magnitude tremor, which was centered on Kaohsiung’s Meinong District, led to the death of 116 people, all but two of them at one toppled apartment complex in Tainan’s Yongkang District.
Minister without Portfolio James Hsiao announced Tuesday that the central government would first pass on NT$500 million (US$15 million) to Tainan City to meet emergency needs, but there would be no special legal articles or special budgets as reconstruction could start immediately. Premier Simon Chang had initially entrusted Hsiao to research whether special legal articles needed to be implemented as was the case after the September 21, 1999 earthquake and after Typhoon Morakot in 2009.
However, the minister came to the conclusion after talks with representatives of the two cities that both laws and funds were sufficient in their present condition to address the fallout from the disaster.
Tuesday’s meeting also addressed estimates for the total cost of reconstruction. Tainan was still busy with primary disaster relief and had therefore not yet had the time to provide detailed figures, but its representative at the meeting mentioned figures in a range from NT$2 billion (US$60 million) to NT$3 billion (US$90 million), Hsiao said. Kaohsiung City said it might need NT$800 million (US$24 million), but because some of those estimates had already been included in central government projections, the total might be NT$400 million (US$12 million), according to Hsiao.
Adding a Cabinet estimate of NT$2.8 billion (US$84 million), the total cost of reconstruction for all areas could end up between NT$5 billion (US$150 million) and NT$6 billion, Hsiao said.
There were still disagreements among survivors of the disaster on whether damaged buildings should be rebuilt at the same location or somewhere else, but if the latter was the case, the central government would help find suitable plots of land, the minister said.
The Cabinet was asking local governments to present more detailed reconstruction plans by March 7, reports said.

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