Marubeni blames Taiwan for airport MRT delay
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-05-11 04:55 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Japan’s Marubeni Corporation blamed repeated delays in the schedule for the completion of the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Mass Rapid Transit line on the government, reports said Saturday.

The Ministry of Transportation’s Bureau of High Speed Rail recently made the expected announcement that the 51-kilometer line could not be opened by the originally scheduled date of October this year. Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih said that late 2015 was a more realistic target date.

Marubeni posted a statement on its web site Friday rejecting accusations by Taiwanese officials that it was responsible for the persistent delays of the project’s completion because of its disputes with subcontractors. By the time the BOHSR handed the construction sites over to Marubeni, the timetable had already not been respected, the Chinese-language Liberty Times quoted the company as saying.

The tenders for the main line and for individual stations, managed by the BOHSR, had not found bidders as rapidly as expected, leading to postponements that were out of Marubeni’s control, the company said. In addition, the Bureau also made at least 100 requests for design changes and other unreasonable demands, according to Marubeni.

The BOHSR rejected Marubeni’s accusations, saying they did not conform to the stipulations of the contract. The regional economic crisis caused a 26-month delay in finding appropriate subcontractors, but in the end the bureau caught up and delivered the rail bed 110 days early, officials said. As to its demands for changes, the BOHSR said they were a common practice on construction projects and did not exceed reasonable limits.

The Japanese trading group is likely to have to pay compensation or be fined for any delays. According to the contract, the government can fine Marubeni NT$12.5 million (US$425,000) per day from October 12, 2013, with a total maximum of NT$2.5 billion (US$84.8 million). However, after the completion of the project, the government could also demand compensation of NT$25.49 billion (US$867 million) at the most.

In its online statement, Marubeni also rejected allegations that as a trading house, it had insufficient experience to coordinate the construction of a large-scale transportation project.

BOHSR Director-General Ju Hsu resigned earlier this month to take responsibility for the problems with the line.

Taoyuan County, which will see the airport MRT link several of its most populous areas, said Friday it was considering suing the central government for compensation over the delays. The county is the main shareholder in the Taoyuan Mass Rapid Transit Corporation, which stood to have spent almost all of its capital by the end of 2014 if the line still didn’t operate yet, officials said.

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