Taiwan renews call for peaceful resolution of South China Sea disputes
Central News Agency
2014-07-12 10:22 PM

Taipei, July 12 (CNA) A pier currently being built by Taiwan on Taiping Island, the largest of the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea, is likely to be completed before the scheduled date in late 2015, a source said Saturday.

According to the source, production of the 11 caissons needed for the project is progressing faster than expected.

As a result, the caissons -- with a total weight of 30,000 tons -- will be shipped to Taiping Island in November, seven months ahead of schedule, the source said.

The ship carrying the goods will be escorted by several military frigates to protect its safety, the source said.

Similar action was taken in May when heavy machinery was being shipped to the island for the pier project.

When it is completed, the pier will be able to accommodate 3,000-ton naval frigates and coastguard cutters.

In addition to a 320-meter pier, the project includes a 210-meter access road, navigation guidance and other auxiliary facilities, according to the Taiwan Area National Expressway Engineering Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation.

At present, big ships have to drop anchor some distance from shore and rely on smaller vessels for loading and unloading, but the problem will be solved with the completion of the project, which also involves dredging the harbor to increase its depth to 14 meters, the bureau said.

In addition, work is being carried out on a 1,300-meter runway to improve rain water drainage, repair landing lights and build a refueling facility, according to the bureau.

The total cost of the project is estimated at NT$3.3 billion (US$110 million). Located about 1,600 km from Taiwan's southern port city of Kaohsiung, Taiping Island is the southernmost territory under the control of the Republic of China government.

The island, less than 0.5 square kilometers, is manned by Taiwan Coast Guard personnel. There are no civilians living there.

(By Angela Tsai and Y.F. Low)

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