Sun, Aug 09, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Local governments blame CWB forecast for flip-flops

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei City Government yesterday came under criticism from Taipei City councilors for making a last-minute change and declaring yesterday a typhoon day late on Friday night, inconveniencing local residents.

The city government said at 5pm on Friday that yesterday would be a work day, but withdrew that announcement at about 10:40pm, declaring yesterday would be a typhoon day and canceling work and classes.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Chen Yu-mei (陳玉梅) said a series of recent incidents — the suspension of the Maokong Gondola, frequent malfunctions on the Neihu MRT line and flaws with the Xinsheng Overpass repair work — had already damaged the city government’s reputation.

“The city government should not cause further public discontent with its flip-flops,” she said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Chuang Rui-hsiung (莊瑞雄) joined Chen in condemning the city government and urged the municipal team to handle municipal affairs more carefully.

After Taipei City made its change, five other cities and counties — Taipei County, Taoyuan County, Hsinchu City, Hsinchu County and Miaoli County — also received many complaints from residents for last-minute changes to initial announcements that had declared yesterday a working day.

The Ilan County Government reversed its announcement at 1am yesterday, declaring that classes would be canceled for the day, but work would continue as usual. Keelung City Government changed its mind as well, announcing at 4am yesterday that classes would be canceled, but work would continue.

Meanwhile, the Taitung County Government had declared yesterday a work day, but after coming under criticism from residents who braved strong winds and heavy rain to go to work, announced at noon yesterday that classes and work were canceled for the rest of the day.

In response to Taipei city councilors’ criticism, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said yesterday that the city government made the announcements based on forecasts from the Central Weather Bureau (CWB).

The city government made the first declaration that yesterday would be a work day at about 5pm as the information from the CWB indicated that maximum wind speed would be below 10 meters per second (mps), Hau said.

Given that the CWB changed its forecast at about 10pm on Friday and predicted that the maximum wind speed would be between 10mps and 11mps, the city government changed its announcement and declared yesterday a typhoon day, Hau said.

“We made the changes following standard procedures,” Hau said.

Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) and Keelung Mayor Chang Tong-rong (張通榮) also defended the local governments’ decision-making process, and blamed the last-minute changes on the CWB forecasts.

Han Yieng-chen (韓英俊), commissioner of Taipei City’s Department of Personnel, said the local governments were authorized to decide whether offices and schools should be canceled during typhoons.

Typhoon days should be declared when the average wind speed reaches 7mps and gust speeds reach ­10mps, he said.

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