Trillions to be committed to investment in infrastructure

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Trillions to be committed to investment in infrastructure

In an effort to prevent catastrophic infrastructure failures, the government is investing 32 trillion won ($27 billion) between 2020 and 2023 to upgrade outdated infrastructure.

It made the commitment at a cabinet meeting Tuesday.

The spending targets come after recent disasters, such as the bursting of a hot water pipe under a road last December and the loss earlier in the year of all telecom services in a large area in downtown Seoul due to a fire.

Under the plan, the government will be investing on average 8 trillion won a year, which is more than was spent on average each year from 2014 and 2018.

A total of 26.2 trillion won was spent over the past five years to manage and replace infrastructure. Of the total, the government contributed 16 trillion won, while public institutions contributed 9 trillion won. The private sector invested 1.2 trillion won.

The government said it will finish repairing and reinforcing underground infrastructure, including fiber-optic tunnels and hot water pipes, this year.

In the case of hot water pipes, it will first focus on areas emitting heat, which could indicate a weakening of a pipe.

The government will be working on the repair and reinforcement of hot water pipes in the summer while initiating special check during winter.

For fiber-optic cable tunnels, KT will be investing 52 billion won through 2020, including strengthening fire prevention.

The government plans to increase penalties for companies specializing in infrastructures safety inspections. When these companies are found to have failed to properly carry out their duty, they could be stripped of their licenses or face fines of up to 10 million won.

Information on major facilities will be made public.

The government said it is also setting up a special government institution in the second half that will be in charge of construction safety, management and the maintenance of major infrastructure and will support relevant vocational training.

It will also create a database on the infrastructure that would include records of past repairs.

In January, President Moon Jae-in ordered the government to create a government task force to study the state of Korean infrastructure and develop measures to enhance public safety in response to recent disasters, including the bursting hot water pipe, which caused one death, and the underground fiber-optic cable fir.

According to the government, infrastructure has been aging rapidly. Of the country’s reservoirs, 96 percent are already 30 years old or older, while 45 percent of dams, 37 percent of railroads and 23 percent of the ports were also built more than three decades ago.

According to the Ministry of Land, Transport and Infrastructure, 90 percent of pipelines are 20 years old or older.

BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]

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