[EDITORIALS]Snow highlights incompetenceAccording to the Korea Meteorological Administration, the financial damage caused by the snowstorms last week, the biggest ever to occur in March, could amount to up to hundreds of billions of won. The Gyeongbu Expressway was paralyzed for 37 hours and a great number of agricultural greenhouses and livestock sheds were destroyed.
Although the snowstorms were a freak occurrence, the government’s slow reaction worsened the situation considerably. A national-level system of providing relief for disasters, natural and manmade, is desperately needed.
Most of all, a system to clear snow on highways is urgently needed. In countries such as the United States, Canada and Russia, snow-clearing equipment is deployed as soon as snow starts falling.
Of course, it could be going a little too far to require a country that has seen a heavy snowstorm once in 100 years to have the same level of infrastructure in countries with much snow. However, our government did not even abide by the official guideline to restrict traffic flow when there is a snowfall of more than 10 centimeters (4 inches). It is such negligence that is regrettable.
If the government had only followed this guideline, we wouldn’t have had the unfortunate situation of having 11,000 vehicles stuck on a highway for more than a day. Think of the drivers and passengers who had to spend the night freezing in their cars without food or who had to wade over 10 kilometers through knee-high snow to get food. If the authorities had only cleared the median strip of the expressway earlier, allowing cars to get through, this wouldn’t have happened.
Last month’s high temperatures and rainstorms were serious weather abnormalities caused by global warming. The government should plan a stage-by-stage manual on disasters caused by changes in the weather and ensure that appropriate action is taken through continuous simulative training. The government must also step up its preparations for the independent fire-fighting headquarters that was to be established after last year’s subway fire in Daegu.
For more than a year, the government officials have been bickering among themselves about bureaucratic details. In the meanwhile, it is the people who are suffering in the cold.