Tue, Jul 18, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Railway projects hastily planned, Ko Wen-je says

’DETAILED DISCOURSES’:Unless a direct railway line between Taipei and Yilan County is built, plans for a Keelung light-railway are infeasible, Ko Wen-je said

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je answers questions from students at a diploma presentation ceremony yesterday at Taipei City Hall.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said he is only against the railway projects in the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, because he thinks that the systems should not be operated by different agencies.

During an online interview, Ko said he criticized the railway projects because “plans should be mapped out before allocating the budgets.”

Unless a direct railway line connecting Taipei and Yilan County is constructed, the planned Keelung light-railway system, which would connect Keelung and Taipei, is hardly possible, because about half the traffic volume in the section is created by travelers going to eastern Taiwan, he said.

Ko said he was surprised when the project was announced, because the destination was set as Taipei World Trade Center Nangang Exhibition Hall, which the Taipei City Government’s new east-side project plans to turn into a transportation hub.

“If the projects are clearly defined, of course we can support them,” Ko said. “However, there was not enough communication.”

Saying he is not against the railway projects in general, Ko added: “I am a rational person, so what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong, I will not talk nonsense about it.”

Ko said a few other local governments have also expressed the need for a general administration office for the railway systems, because the local governments know the difficulty of executing plans without an agency in charge of integrating the systems.

“There is an about NT$600 billion [US$19.72 billion] budget for constructing the railway systems, but how will they be executed? We should discuss it first — what the execution agency should be like,” he said.

Ko said his remark that “you only want to spend money, but do not want to execute plans,” was aimed at Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦), because he thinks Tan’s attitude toward the projects is “selfish departmentalism.”

Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai’s (王國材) remark last week that the establishment of a joint disaster prevention center at Taipei Railway Station was delayed by Ko changing the plan last year was misleading, Ko said.

“The problem had been left unattended for 11 years ... even if the infrastructure is not yet completed, there should be a way to integrate the agencies involved,” he said, adding that they should discuss how to handle possible disasters before the project’s completion in March 2019.

Referring to the idiom “three in the morning and four in the evening” — monkeys being upset about their keeper’s suggestion of giving them three nuts in the morning and four in the evening, but accepting four in the morning and three in the evening — Ko jokingly said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers’ opposition to the infrastructure program “seemed no different than monkeys.”

“You need detailed discourses to tell people why you are against something,” he said, adding that he knows that having about 10 different agencies running the railway systems is wrong.

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