Taipei offers taxis for elderly
The Taipei City Government yesterday started offering taxi services tailored toward the elderly and physically challenged, as part of the nation’s bid to promote transportation options for all. A total of 10 minivan taxis that can accommodate wheelchairs are available for reservation, with 20 more to be added to the fleet in the next six months, Taipei City Government officials said. Senior citizens and the physically challenged will be entitled to discounts. Taipei is the first city in the country to provide such services. Many local governments provide minibuses for the elderly, pregnant women and people in wheelchairs, but due to their limited numbers, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications is encouraging taxi drivers to also provide barrier-free services. The ministry provides a subsidy of NT$400,000 (US$13,500) for taxi drivers who agree to offer the services. Those who need the service can call toll-free number 0800-055-850.
‘Terror eyes’ to scare birds
Kinmen officials said plastic “terror eyes” will be distributed to farmers free of charge to deter birds from eating crops and wean farmers off the use of nets to keep avian intruders away. The terror eye simulates the glaring eyes and mouth of a predator and creates the illusion in the birds’ minds that they are being chased by a larger bird, officials at the county’s Economic Affairs Department said. The county government will distribute the terror eyes to farmers growing vegetables and fruit to prevent birds from eating the produce. It is also considering making flags with images of larger birds as an alternative, officials said.
Minister flies to Haiti
Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) has flown to Haiti after concluding a three-day visit to Saint Kitts and Nevis, Taiwanese diplomats stationed in Washington said on Tuesday. Lin is on a tour of Taiwan’s allies in the Caribbean that began on Jan. 29. His first stop was in Saint Lucia from where he traveled to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Haiti will be the last of four countries he visits, the officials said. During his stay in Saint Kitts and Nevis from Saturday to Monday, the minister met with Governor General Edmund Lawrence and Prime Minister Denzil Douglas. He conveyed President Ma Yaing-jeou’s (馬英九) greetings and reviewed the progress of bilateral programs aimed at developing green energy and agriczulture in the country, the officials said. Lin also explained Ma’s East China Sea Peace Initiative — a plan to peacefully resolve territorial disputes in the East China Sea that involve Taiwan, Japan and China. Lin is scheduled to return to Taiwan tomorrow.
Students heading to Spratlys
Forty university students and professors will be selected to take part in a camp on the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島), the Ministry of National Defense said. The ministry said teams of 10 people from four universities, consisting of a professor and nine graduate and doctoral students under 40 years old, will take part in the program in two separate groups. It would not say, however, when the program will be held because of security concerns. The ministry is organizing the camp for the third year in a row, and this year’s program will focus on the history of the South China Sea, maritime law and marine ecology. Students will send postcards upon landing on the islands to assert Taiwan’s sovereignty over the Spratlys.