Legislators, children’s rights advocates and government officials have yet to reach a consensus over whether the government should cancel restrictions on the use of school buses, with some saying that an amendment to the Highway Act (公路法) was designed to benefit bus operators.
The amendment was proposed after the Ministry of Education placed restrictions on vehicles used to carry kindergarten and elementary-school students, requiring buses to have been in operation for less than 10 years or be replaced with new ones.
The regulations have created problems for many kindergarten operators, whose businesses have already suffered because of the nation’s declining birth rate, making them unwilling to pay more for expensive buses imported from overseas because of the 10-year rule.
Buses produced in Taiwan fail to meet the nation’s emission standards.
A proposed amendment to Article 63 of the Highway Act brought by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators on the legislature’s Transportation Committee secured preliminary approval.
However, due to the controversies surrounding the bill, lawmakers agreed in the plenary session on Friday last week to wait on further negotiations between the ruling and opposition parties.
DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) said the ministry only regulates school buses according to the vehicles’ age.
She said the ministry does not take into account the vehicles’ body structure, durability and safety index, adding that this policy forces kindergarten and elementary schools to replace the buses that might have a service life of more than 10 years.
This would make the education providers less willing to spend extra money buying durable and solid buses, prefering to turn to cheaper, less-durable vehicles instead, creating a less safe transport option for students, Yeh said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ko Chih-en (柯志恩) said the act affects the safety of hundreds of thousands of children.
Ko said the age of a vehicle is the most fundamental requirement for buses used to carry children, adding however that the age factor is not the best way to manage school buses or the only criterion to gauge the safety of a vehicle.
The government should not take the matter lightly, as buses carry children who are unable to react quickly to emergency situations most of the time, Ko said.
Jing Chuan Child Safety Foundation executive director Lin Yue-chin (林月琴) accused lawmakers of proposing the amendment to curry favor from bus operators, adding that lawmakers should consider the consequences of using unsafe buses.
The ministry said it needs to ascertain whether the Highway Act is applicable in the regulation of school buses, as it also stipulates an age limit for buses with authorization from the Protection of Children and Youth Welfare and Rights Act (兒童及少年福利與權益保障法).
The ministry said it had consulted legal experts, who said that setting an age limit for school buses is necessary, as the passengers are preschool or school-aged children.
However, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said that one cannot equate the age of a vehicle with its safety.
It said schools could choose the best bus company to work with based on multiple factors if the government lifts the restrictions on the use of the motor vehicles based on their age.
The factors could include the records of the bus company’s drivers, its buses used to carry children and its management of operations, it said.
SPEEDING ELETRIC VEHICLES: Available without license requirements, the low-cost vehicles, especially if illicitly modified, can often reach a dangerous speed The government should crack down on illegal electric bicycles and scooters, the non-profit Consumers’ Foundation said on Friday, citing research on the potentially dangerous speed of the vehicles. Electric bicycles and lightweight electric scooters have gained popularity as they do not require registration and riders do not need licenses, the foundation said, adding that as many as 40 percent of them can reach speeds exceeding the legal limit of 25kph for non-licensed two-wheelers. Some consumers also purchased legal electric vehicles and modified them to reach higher speeds, it said. “If the government does not step up efforts to confiscate these
‘RELIABLE PARTNER’: US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar praised the ‘Taiwan model,’ saying that the nation brought its spirit to its COVID-19 response The first memorandum of understanding (MOU) on health cooperation between the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the US Department of Health and Human Services was yesterday signed at the Centers for Disease Control in Taipei. The memorandum was signed between the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US, by AIT Director Brent Christensen and Taiwan Council for US Affairs Chairperson Jen-ni Yang (楊珍妮). US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) witnessed the signing of the memorandum, designed to enhance the nations’
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday tweeted a welcome to Somaliland’s first representative to Taiwan, Mohamed Omar Hagi Mohamoud, who arrived on Friday. Mohamoud had “braved Chinese pressure” to take up his new post, Wu wrote. “The fact ‘sovereignty & friendship aren’t for sale’ deserves international recognition,” referring to a Somaliland media report earlier this month that Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi had rejected an offer by the Chinese government in exchange for ending its rapprochement with Taiwan. Wu also thanked the US National Security Council (NSC) for praising Taiwan-Somaliland ties. A council tweet on July 10 praised Taiwan
The Taipei City Government yesterday said that construction on the long-suspended Taipei Dome can resume immediately, after it approved a request by the project’s main contractor, Farglory Group. In a statement, the Taipei Construction Management Office said that after it on July 16 issued a new building permit, Farglory submitted revised design plans and an application to resume construction, which the office approved on Friday. Construction had been suspended on the dome, near the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Xinyi District (信義), for more than five years due to disagreements between the city and the company over the safety of some of