Thu, Jan 08, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Boats to consummate Love River cleanup

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Cupid does a trial run on Kaohsiung's Love River yesterday. The Cupid is one of 15 boats that will offer tours of the river beginning next month.

PHOTO: LIN YA-LI, TAIPEI TIMES

Kaohsiung residents will soon be able to take boat rides down the Love River, Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said yesterday at ceremony for the launch of a tourist ship.

The Kaohsiung City Government's Bureau of Transportation held a trial run yesterday for the new ship, dubbed Cupid, which is one of the 15 tourist boats set to sail on the Love River on Feb. 5, the date of the Lantern Festival.

Presiding over the launch ceremony at the Golden River cafe, which included a group of children dressed up as cupids, Hsieh said the 15 ships were built locally and created especially for the Love River.

He said the boats were intended to make the river more romantic and beautiful.

"Drinking a cup of coffee at the river cafe or strolling along the river is not the only way to experience the river's change," Hsieh said.

"Citizens and visitors will be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery by taking a boat, just like visitors to other famous rivers such as the Seine in France and the Rhine in Germany," he said.

The Love River was dredged and rehabilitated in 1999. The Bureau of Transportation announced plans in October to build 15 tourist boats for the river.

The Cupid was completed on Dec. 31 and the other 14 boats were expected to be finished by Jan. 20. The bureau plans to complete the mooring facilities by Jan. 30, an official at the bureau said.

Each boat costs about NT$2.6 million, is capable of accommodating 20 passengers and will feature seats designed for lovers, the bureau official said.

The Cupid is white, symbolizing purity and devotion. The other ships will be painted the seven colors of the rainbow and will be named after famous lovers.

A ceremony to mark the launch of the fleet will be held on Feb. 5, when the ships will cruise the Love River.

The cruise will go along the river about 4km, passing artistic spots such as the Kaohsiung Municipal Archives, Kaohsiung Municipal Museum of History, Music Center, Business Trade Center and Hakka Cultural Museum.

The river, a city landmark, has been a site for lovers since the 1950s. But the river became notorious for its stench and filth when it was polluted by industrial waste in the 1960s as heavy industry expanded.

Previous efforts to rehabilitate the river were unsuccessful.

Albert Lin (林耀文), director of the city government's Department of Information, said the river started to see real change since Hsieh began serving as mayor five years ago.

Lin said their goal is "where the Love River flows, there exists Renaissance," and to make the city more friendly and accessible.

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