While a series of issues surrounding the freeway Electronic Toll Collection System (ETC) have sparked controversy nationwide, some legislators are questioning whether the government should continue levying freeway tolls, which they said have already paid for all freeway construction costs since 1997.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Lin Cheng-fong (林政峰) and Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) said yesterday that the government had already earned more than NT$135 billion (US$4.18 billion) from toll fees by 1997. Deducting freeway maintenance fees of approximately NT$39 billion, 6 percent interest and the construction cost of NT$37.6 billion leaves the government a surplus of approximately NT$6.3 billion.
"Those who drive on the Sun Yat-sen Freeway have absolutely no need to install the electronic onboard units," Lin said.
PHOTO: CHAN CHAO-YANG, TAIPEI TIMES
"The government has already redeemed the complete cost of freeway construction work since 1997. There is no need for motorists to pay toll fees, much less to buy onboard units," Lin added.
Tsai yesterday condemned the Ministry of Transportation and Communications for using gains made from one freeway to help cover the building costs of others, saying that the policy treats motorists on the Sun Yat-sen Freeway as if they were ATMs.
Both legislators said that the ministry should immediately stop collecting freeway tolls, and said they would table a proposal in the legislative committee for further discussion.
They said that the fines faced by motorists who accidentally drive into ETC-only lanes are illegal.
"First, the ministry has not allowed adequate time to promote the new policy, and second, there is no administrative order that drivers must pay the fine anyway," Tsai said.
Dissatisfaction with the new toll-collection policy seems to have crossed party lines.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Kao Chien-chih (
Kao added that the ministry should promptly come up with solutions to promote the use of the ETC system.
An official from the Taiwan Area National Freeway Bureau, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that while he recognized the facts to which Tsai and Lin referred, they failed to mention that the nation has accumulated debts of more than NT$200 billion in building all the major freeways.
"Personally I don't like paying toll fees, and I am sure everyone will be happy if they don't have to pay anymore, but the government would have to figure out ways to pay back all the debts, such as by rearranging the budget," he said.
When asked why the government mainly uses the tolls collected from the Sun Yat-sen Freeway to pay for the construction of other freeways, the official said that other freeways were simply not designed to have toll booths on them.
Using income from one road to maintain another has always been the policy of the bureau, he said.
also see story:
ETC hints at Big Brother system
DELUSIONAL: The male patient said he did not know that the woman had mental problems, but the court said that her being restrained in isolation should have given him pause The Taiwan High Court has ordered the Jhudong branch of the Taiwan National University Hospital and a male patient to jointly pay a former female patient’s family NT$400,000 in compensation after the man had sex with the woman, who has mental problems, while hospitalized. The 26-year-old woman has been diagnosed with a mental disorder, a symptom of which is that she obsessively seeks to have sex, her mother said. The mother filed a formal complaint and sought damages from the hospital and the male patient surnamed Chen (陳) after finding out that her daughter had sex with the man while
The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) should not use the government’s disease-prevention policy as an excuse to block people’s access to the Taipei Railway Station’s main hall, the Taiwan International Workers’ Association said yesterday. The association held a protest at the station after what organizers said were about 400 people staged a sit-in on Saturday to demonstrate against the TRA’s proposal to ban sitting on the floor of the main hall. In accordance with the Central Epidemic Command Center’s disease-prevention measures, large gatherings have been banned in the hall since the end of February. After protesters yesterday expressed their grievances at the southern
SEEKING OPTIONS: A Sinyi Realty corporate realty official attributed the spike to proposed legal changes in the territory and the ongoing pro-democracy protests More Hong Kongers purchased real estate in Taiwan last year than other foreigners, Ministry of the Interior statistics showed. The ministry attributed the spike to a proposed extradition law that the Hong Kong government submitted last year, which would have allowed suspects to be sent to China and other nations, which sparked mass protests that are continuing. The rate of purchases last year by Hong Kong natural and juridical persons stood at 40 and 60 percent respectively, with building area purchased by both standing at 47.41 percent and 52.59 percent respectively, ministry data showed. Department of Land Administration statistics showed that Hong Kongers
NEW RECRUITS: Nearly 9 million students are to graduate from university next month, and Beijing plans to use incentives to convince them to join the military, an analyst said Rising unemployment in China due to the COVID-19 pandemic could benefit the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) by allowing it to attract new, better educated recruits, a Taiwanese security researcher said on Friday. Chen Ying-hsuan (陳穎萱), a policy analyst at the Division of Chinese Politics and Military Affairs at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, a government-funded think tank, made the remarks in an article published in the Defense Security Biweekly magazine. About 8.74 million university students are expected to graduate in China next month, while Chinese companies’ demand for fresh graduates fell 16.77 percent annually in the