Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors yesterday criticized President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) over the spiralling budget for the MRT Neihu Line during his time as Taipei mayor and for insisting on adopting a medium capacity system for the line despite the growing population and rapid development in the area.
They also urged Ma to take responsibility for the line’s system malfunctions.
Construction of the Neihu Line, which opened to the public on July 4, started in 2002 when Ma was mayor of Taipei. The Taipei City Council approved the Ma administration’s proposal in 2001 that the line be built above ground with a medium passenger capacity.
Ma further insisted that Songshan Airport should be added to the route, driving up the price tag by NT$62 billion.
DPP Taipei City Councilor Chien Yu-yen (簡余晏) accused Ma of benefiting the contractor, Kung Sing Engineering Corporation, by increasing the budget from NT$30 billion to NT$62 billion over the years but refusing to change the system to a high-capacity system.
“Why do Taipei residents need to spend so much money building a medium-capacity MRT system? Ma Ying-jeou should explain his decisions to the public,” she told a press conference at the Taipei City Council.
DPP Taipei City Councilor Lee Ching-feng (李慶鋒) condemned Ma for insisting on using Canadian firm Bombadier as the contractor for the Neihu Line, making the integration of the systems of the Muzha Line and Neihu Line more difficult.
Bombardier was not involved in the construction of the Muzha Line.
“Taipei residents should not be treated as lab rats. With so many problems afflicting the Neihu Line, Ma should give a clear explanation on his previous decisions, rather than making the administration of Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) a scapegoat,” he said.
Taipei City Secretariat Deputy Director Tan Guo-guang (譚國光), the head of the Neihu Line’s emergency response team, argued that the NT$6.2 billion budget was for the whole project, including adjustments in the prices for construction materials. Kung Sing Engineering Corporation received about NT$4 billion.
Tan said the budget was approved by the city council, dismissing DPP city councilors’ concerns about the city government’s profiting the contractor.
The new president of Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation (TRTC) Lin Chung-yih (林崇一), a former deputy Taipei mayor, yesterday promised to stabilize the malfunction-plagued line within three months.
Lin, who left his position as deputy Taipei mayor last year after suffering a stroke, took over his new position yesterday.
Lin pledged to solve the lines’ problems and said the company would draw up a new pricing plan for the line after Hau promised to consider cutting ticket prices.