DP lays down gauntlet on Oh’s Han River project

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DP lays down gauntlet on Oh’s Han River project

Just weeks after winning re-election by a razor-slim margin, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon is already facing fierce opposition from political rivals out to halt his Han River canal project - even before they take office.

Newly elected Seoul Metropolitan Council members from the opposition Democratic Party issued a statement yesterday demanding that Oh stop the plan to link the river with the West Sea and Chinese ports, providing routes for international freighters and tourist-friendly ferries.

“The Seoul city government is showing indifference to the election results that reflected the voters’ sentiments by pushing ahead with its plan,” the statement said.

“It is estimated that the Seoul city government will spend between 400 billion won [$338 million] and 500 billion won on the project,” the DP members said.

“The cruises will cost between 100,000 won and 200,000 per day, and they’ll only satisfy the interests of the wealthy few.”

Beginning July 1, the Seoul city council will be under the control of DP members, who won a landslide 79 council seats out of 106 in the June 2 local elections. Political observers said they can be expected to place spikes in the paths of Oh’s long-term projects, which had been supported by Grand National Party council members.

The Seoul city council reviews and approves 24 trillion won of the city government’s annual budget. Under the Democrats, some of the budget for Oh’s key projects could be delayed, slashed, or rejected and used for other projects supported by the DP.

In a closed meeting with the mayor yesterday morning, DP council members warned Oh to “halt demolishing Yanghwa Bridge,” or they’d use every possible means to block the plan.

Extending the bridge is seen as the initial step of the project, but that portion of the project alone will cost 58.2 billion won.

So far, the government has secured only 10.2 billion won of the cost in this year’s budget. It has requested a supplementary 20 billion won from the city council.

Oh said he will carefully review the DP council members’ requests.

“I can’t stop the construction project today just because they’ve asked for it, but I’ll review their points flexibly,” Oh said. “We can discuss this issue further when the city council opens.”

By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]
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