ETC trial run begins
A 10-day trial run of the electronic Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) system began yesterday and will end at midnight on Jan. 25. The trial will take place on eight stops along the north-south Formosa Freeway (Freeway 3) from Holong (後龍) in Miaoli County to Chutien (竹田) in Pingtung County. Two lanes have been allocated at toll booths for the trial run. Vehicles with on-board units (OBUs) are advised to use the innermost lanes. Ministry of Transport and Communications officials asked drivers to make sure they don't enter the wrong lane as offenders will be subject to a NT$3,000 fine. The ETC system was slated to begin operations on Jan. 1 but is now set to go into effect nationwide on Feb. 10. During the three-month promotion period for the system OBUs are priced at NT$680, with free installation. After the promotion period OBUs will be priced at NT$1180 and installation will cost NT$175. A deposit of NT$500 is also required. The ETC tolls will be NT$40 for small cars, NT$50 for buses and NT$65 for cars connected to trailers or other parts.
■ Foreign labor
Airport aid now available
A service station was established yesterday at Chiang Kai-shek International Airport to help foreign laborers upon arrival. The service station will help with documentation checks and baggage claim, disputes with airport personnel, legal assistance and problems with laborers being mislead or cheated by unlawful bodies on their arrival in this country. Assistance will be given from the moment of arrival until the foreign workers are delivered to the hands of their employers or those who are collecting them at the airport. A service station will also be provided in the departure halls, where a hotline for last minute protests or objections will be available for those who have been unfairly dismissed or are being repatriated.
Dog buyers cautioned
The number of people expected to buy dogs is expected to rise sharply as the Lunar New Year brings in the "Year of the Dog" so Council of Agriculture officials yesterday warned dog lovers to ensure their pets receive the necessary vaccinations, especially for rabies. Although Taiwan has been rabies free since the 1960s, the increase in trade between China and Taiwan means that extra caution should be taken since rabies is a serious problem in China, they said. Officials said that pet buyers should avoid buying pets whose origins are unknown. If any member of the public has suspicions about animal smuggling, they should call 0800031131.
Japan mulls driving rights
Japan is considering recognizing Taiwanese driver licenses, Japanese Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Kazuo Kitagawa said on Sunday. He said that his ministry is discussing the issue with police authorities. Taiwanese tourists cannot use international drivers' licenses in Japan because Tokyo does not recognize Taiwanese licenses. As Taiwan is the second-largest source of tourists to Japan, Kitagawa said his ministry plans to recognize Taiwanese licenses in order to attract more Taiwanese visitors. Taiwanese made about 1.3 million visits to Japan last year.