Go to contents

[Editorial] Calling for Disaster Prevention Measures

Posted September. 02, 2002 22:31,   


Typhoon Rusa cut railways, roads and power lines as it battered the nation, causing traffic delays and paralyses everywhere. Devastation by the latest typhoon, which was believed to be the worst hit since Sara in 1959, was doubled by decrepit facilities and lack of alertness. With bridges and railways poorly maintained and repaired, damage to the major transportation infrastructure was severe.

The government, often citing tight budget, will not be spared from criticism that it repeatedly fails to protect backbone infrastructure, not to mention, lives and properties of people, from natural disasters.

Lack of alertness and safety awareness in large part contributed to landslides on roadside, which led to casualties and cutoff of roads. The government OKed constructions of roads without considering nature of soils and rocks near the construction sites, and now no one takes responsibility for what happened. Emergency railways were of no use either, as bypasses also ceased to work under severe weather conditions. Mobile communication as well as fixed lines was disconnected in remote local areas, leaving isolated residents in the midst of darkness and fear.

Destroyed dikes in Hapchon in south Gyeongnam province, one of the worst-hit areas during heavy rains last month, were temporarily sustained only to collapse again. Residents have every reason to blame the local authorities and the government – they should have taken prevention measures against a series of typhoons, which usually pass through the country from August through early September. Flooded power plants and LPG filling stations were also exposed to likelihood of fatal accidents.

What are government standards in selecting sites for key backbone facilities, and what has been done to protect those facilities from natural disasters? It’s time to set a comprehensive long-term disaster prevention plan, instead of resorting to makeshift measures, so that the country can become a truly advanced country by protecting its backbone facilities against another Sara and Rusa to come.