Bucharest - Tokyo joint working groups on retrofitting quake-risk buildings, cutting pollution
By Emea Riga
Emergency and traffic management, making safe quake-risk buildings, and two major sporting events that will be held in 2020 - the Tokyo Summer Olympics and the EURO 2020 football matches to be hosted by Bucharest - were the main subjects of the talks this Wednesday at the headquarters of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, between Bucharest General Mayor Gabriela Firea and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike; it should be noted that Tokyo's metropolis has 23 administrative wards and more than 14 million inhabitants.
The two officials agreed to set the bases for a long-term cooperation by setting up joint working groups tasked with the retrofitting of quake-risk buildings, emergency management and reducing pollution, a release informs.
'After two days of meetings with Tokyo senior officials, I can say that for Bucharest, this metropolis represents a best practice model in at least two directions: earthquake mitigation and traffic management. Although Bucharest is the most earthquake-prone EU capital, in the past 27 years the local authorities have refurbished only 20 buildings, as allocations stood at one million euro per year. In recent years, we have succeeded in restarting the program for retrofitting quake-risk buildings, by the reorganization of such projects and substantial financial allocations: this year alone we have allocated 10 million euro, and as a result works are underway at more than 41 buildings. Most of the buildings undergoing refurbishment were built in the 1900s in the center of Bucharest, and some are historical monuments,' Gabriela Firea said, as cited in the release.
She added that, given that urban traffic is one of the major air pollution factors, the local government has provided for measures to reduce traffic under the Integrated Air Quality Plan, which stipulates the limitation of the movement of polluting vehicles.
'As a first concrete step, we have initiated the just freshly launched Eco-voucher Program, whereby we plan to eliminate from traffic high-pollution vehicles. The citizens who dump their old cars will receive about 2,000 euro worth of vouchers they can use to buy either electronics and home appliances or other clean cars. More than 5,000 vouchers will be distributed,' Firea said.
The Bucharest General Mayor said that this year, the current administration has completed and rendered operational a top modern Municipal Emergency Management Center, which brings together all the institutions involved in coordinating and managing interventions in such cases.
In her turn, Governor Yuriko Koike expressed openness to cooperating with Bucharest and said that given Tokyo's high seismic risk, the main concern of the Metropolitan Government at this time is to continue projects whereby to minimize the risks to the population in the event of a major earthquake (more than 6.7 Richter magnitude), such as the extra securing by specific technologies of bridges and passages, schools, hospitals and medical centers, or fireproofing wooden buildings in certain residential districts. According to Governor Koike, the cooperation of the population in such situations is essential, and awareness-raising, education and information campaigns for the locals are being carried out.
Regarding traffic management, the Governor of Tokyo said that in addition to infrastructure projects, the measures enforced are focusing on reducing pollution by gradually replacing the public transportation fleet with electric or hydrogen vehicles.
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