Taipei City will accelerate cleanup efforts to improve the quality of the Tamsui River (淡水河) and turn the riverside into a recreational area within four years, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said on an inspection tour at Clarke Quay on the Singapore River yesterday.
Accompanied by Representative to Singapore Vanessa Shih (史亞平) and officials from Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Hau took a boat tour on the river to inspect a river revitalization project, which took about 10 years to complete.
The URA said the Singaporean government began cleanup work of the Singapore River and its surrounding environment in 1977 and spent about 10 years cleaning the river and Kallang Basin, helping with the resettlement of the poor who lived along the river and working with private companies to turn the old and stinky river into a commercial, residential and entertainment district.
The revitalization project also included the preservation of historical buildings and the government also required that new buildings complement the historical and cultural essence of the area.
“The Singaporean government successfully boosted the local economy with the Singapore River revitalization project and urban redevelopment plan in the area. Taipei is hoping to achieve the same goal with the cleanup of the Tamsui River,” Hau said at Clarke Quay.
Improving the quality of the Tamsui River and making it accessible to residents is a major policy of Hau’s municipal administration, while Hau has also promised to work with New Taipei City (新北市) Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) to set up a Tamsui River management department to clean up the river and proceed with urban renewal projects around the river to turn it into the “Manhattan Riverside” of Taipei.
Hau said Taipei City would use 200 hectares of land along the river for affordable housing units and an art zone, while New Taipei City would allocate 303 hectares for urban renewal projects.
Hau’s visits to the URA and the Housing and Development Board were part of a plan to understand the city-state’s public housing program.
The mayor and a delegation of Taipei City officials and city councilors arrived in Singapore late on Tuesday after a two-day visit in Hong Kong to inspect public housing programs there.
Hau is scheduled to visit a public housing complex in Singapore this morning before leaving for home in the evening.
Hau also confirmed he held a private meeting with Singaporean Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀) on Tuesday night to get his advice on public housing.
During the meeting at the Presidential Office, Lee shared Singapore’s experience in urban development and low-cost public housing.
The topic of a free-trade agreement (FTA) between Taiwan and Singapore, Hau said, was not on the agenda.
Shih said the two countries would eventually negotiate an Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership (ASTEP) to strengthen economic ties.
Taiwan and Singapore issued a joint press release in December announcing the two countries would negotiate an ASTEP.
She said Singapore would discuss the agreement with different industries and seek their opinion before starting formal negotiations.
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