Sat, Sep 09, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Transport minister says ETC decision the `only solution'

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Transportation and Communications Tsai Duei (蔡堆) told reporters late on Thursday that the decision to entrust Far Eastern Electronic Toll Co with temporary management of the highway electronic toll collection (ETC) system and to negotiate the service charge later was the only solution currently possible, as the talks between the two sides had been completely unproductive.

Tsai further stated that the decision was the only way to ensure that the interests of motorists could be protected.

"We announced the decision first and will continue to negotiate over the charge later," Tsai said, "That way, motorists will be able to continue using the ETC system while the review board members select a new operator."

Tsai's remarks were made following an earlier announcement to allow Far Eastern to continue to operate the ETC system before another legally qualified operator is chosen.

The Supreme Administrative Court earlier ruled that Far Eastern's operation of the ETC system resulted from a flawed bidding process. The company has since been negotiating with the ministry's Taiwan Area National Expressway Bureau over the possibility of a temporary takeover.

While the bureau has requested the service charge to be kept at NT$3.4 each time a car passes through a toll booth, the company has requested that the bureau raise the amount before it assumes control.

"I can understand the company's request," Tsai said, "but it is unacceptable."

Tsai said Far Eastern could always seek legal action to resolve the service charge dispute after the announcement.

He said that the bureau will convene a review meeting soon.

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