Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday dismissed speculation that he holds a grudge against New Taipei City (新北市) Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) for unilaterally announcing a joint city mechanism for suspending school and work during inclement weather. He said the two cities were working together to improve the mechanism to better serve the public.
Taipei City, New Taipei City and Keelung reached an agreement last week to make a joint decision on whether to cancel classes and work during typhoons or torrential rains after northern Taiwan was hit by torrential rain last week.
However, the New Taipei City Government on Tuesday revealed details of the public announcement mechanism without informing the Taipei City Government, sparking speculation of a simmering rivalry between Hau and Chu. The two are considered to be potential candidates for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) for the 2016 presidential election.
However, Hau denied having problems with Chu.
“Mayor Chu and I are good friends, and we have discussed the torrential rain situation every day. We agree that the heads of the three cities should work together on the joint announcement mechanism to better serve a growing number of intercity commuters,” he said during a visit to Taipei City’s Emergency Operation Center.
He said the focus shouldn’t be on which city makes the announcement first, adding that the three cities would consider taking turns to announce the decision to prevent inconsistencies.
“What’s more important is that we communicate with each other and that we reach a consensus on a decision that would protect public safety and prevent inconveniences,” he said.
If school or work has to be suspended, a public announcement will be made at 5:30am that day, the Taipei mayor said.
As to residents’ complaints about broken roads and damaged houses due to the flooding in Wenshan District (文山), Hau said the city government had asked the Hydraulic Engineering Office and Wenshan District Office to help residents register and apply for national compensation.
The Taipei City Government faced criticism last week after suspending work at 9:54am on Tuesday following torrential rain overnight, when people were either already at work or on their way.
The controversy over late announcements of work and school shutdowns prompted a directive from President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Wednesday last week stating that in future, torrential rain forecasts should be issued between 4am and 5:30am, so that local governments would be able to make suspension announcements before people leave home for work or school.