Taipei, June 2 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said by phone at a ceremony marking the beginning of construction of the Kinmen Bridge Saturday that he hoped that bridge could be completed ahead of schedule.
The bridge is scheduled for completion on Aug. 30, 2016, but Ma hoped the structure, which will connect Kinmen's main island and Little Kinmen, also known as "Lieyu," to its west, can be finished by the end of his second term on May 20, 2016 so he can attend its opening ceremony.
Tsai Ching-liang, chairman of Hwa Chi Construction Co., which won the tender for the project with a bid of NT$6.56 billion (US$218.94 million), said his company would do everything possible to finish the job ahead of schedule.
Two ships have already begun drilling and placing the foundation in the waterways near the construction site. About 4.8 kilometers of the 5.4 km-bridge will be suspended over water.
Ma, who was speaking from Taipei, said he hoped the bridge could become a new landmark in Kinmen County and stimulate the county's tourism, which is why the bridge's function is "30 percent transportation and 70 percent tourism."
The Kinmen islands, which lie much closer to China than Taiwan, were long the front line of hostilities between the two countries before relations thawed.
Ma said Kinmen County's economic development was sacrificed at the hands of the enmity between Taiwan and China, but with tensions between the two relaxing, it was now time for the county's economic and tourism development to catch up.
The Kinmen Bridge project will have to overcome many difficulties, including taking into consideration its effect on the ecosystem, Ma said.
(By Chen Shou-gow and C.J. Lin)