President Park Geun-hye on Tuesday directed her government to draw up an integrated map of the country’s underground structures amid growing concerns over the occurrence of sinkholes in Seoul and other parts of the country.
Presiding over a Cabinet meeting at Cheong Wa Dae, Park also ordered officials to make continued efforts to ensure the safety of ferry operations, reiterating her push to improve the overall public safety.
“As sinkholes have repeatedly occurred in metropolises, people’s concerns have been increasing,” said Park. “Even though our nation has some 120,000 kilometers of underground sewer pipes, we don’t have proper maps detailing geological features or construction plans in any particular region.”
Park added that taking the recent sinkhole cases as an opportunity to strengthen public safety checks, all provincial governments should put their heads together to secure a budget to make the underground maps and prevent additional underground hollows, particularly near construction sites.
Last month, several underground hollows were found in southern Seoul, sparking concerns that the hollows could cause roads to collapse and kill people. Later in the month, Seoul City said that poor construction of Subway Line No. 9 was the cause.
Ahead of the Korean Thanksgiving, or Chuseok, which falls on Sept. 7, Park said that officials should take extra care to ensure the safety of ferries.
“During this transitional period when related laws have yet to be revised to enhance the public safety, we should pay particular attention to safety management,” she said. “At an appropriate time in the future, (I) want (the government) to prepare for large-scale disaster drills.”
The government has been under public criticism for the inept initial response to the April 16 ferry disaster that left more than 300 people, mostly young students, dead or missing. Since the nation’s worst maritime disaster in decades, the government has sought to overhaul the national disaster response system.
During the Cabinet meeting, Park also pledged to build a “creative economy innovation center” in which large firms offer support to startups and creative venture companies.
By Song Sang-ho (firstname.lastname@example.org)