The Ministry of the Interior has failed to follow through on promises to hold hearings on controversial expropriation projects, housing rights advocates said yesterday, demanding that the ministry call a hearing to force the Taoyuan City Government to clarify a road expansion project.
A handful of protesters gathered outside the ministry in Taipei, with residents affected by the expansion of Lungkang Road in Taoyuan’s Jhongli District (中壢) performing a skit in which hundreds of coins were poured into bottles, to represent the work, which they called “wasteful” and a “violation of human rights.”
“The ministry passed guidelines last year, but there has been no effort to pass them,” said Tien Chi-feng (田奇峰), a consultant for a residents’ self-help association, adding that the situation exemplified concerns about the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program.
“In this case, the size of the expansion is unnecessary, but it keeps getting reviewed and approved by the minister of the interior, demonstrating just how hard it is to cancel such projects once they get rolling,” he said.
The road expansion, in its second phase, was initiated as part of former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) 12 “i-Taiwan" infrastructure programs and is expected to cost about NT$700 million (US$23.05 million), compared with about NT$800 million in the Forward-looking program to construct a light-rail system between Taipei and Keelung.
Controversy has centered around the expansion project’s efficacy, with Tien saying that plans to expand the road’s width to 30m would turn it into a “large parking lot” because of a bottleneck on an unexpanded section near Jhongli Railway Station.
“The government has not provided a reasonable explanation, nor many of their statistics,” said association member Lee Tzu-chiang (李自強), a resident affected by the expansion’s second phase.
Data provided by the Taoyuan City Government at meetings of the ministry’s land expropriation subcommittee were different from those provided earlier at local public hearings, Lee said.
Chuang Yu-cheng (莊玉城), a resident who would be affected by a planned third phase of the expansion, said that residents could accept an expansion to 24m, which would spare most homes if street parking in government plans were to be eliminated.
Department of Land Administration Deputy Director Wang Cheng-chi (王成機) said that the ministry’s expropriation general committee would decide whether hearings are to be held, if the case is passed by the subcommittee.
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