Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus vice secretary-general Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) yesterday called on Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) to step down over a bus crash on the Sun Yat-sen Freeway (Freeway No. 1) on Monday night that killed six people and injured 11.
The crash was the third major accident involving tour buses during Hochen’s time in office, and the ministry has not proposed amendments to rules governing tour bus operators since an Iris Travel Service Co tour bus crashed on the Chiang Wei-shui Memorial Freeway (National Freeway No. 5) seven months ago, Lee told a news conference at the legislature in Taipei.
Several lawmakers have since March proposed amendments to acts regulating tour bus operators, but since the ministry had not submitted related drafts to the legislature, lawmakers had been unable to schedule a review, she said.
Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times
Every time a major freeway accident occurred, the ministry said that it would review the incidents and improve existing rules, but it has treated the problem with inaction, she said.
“Minister Hochen’s management style has been characterized by negligence. It is time for him to assume political responsibility and go,” Lee said.
She urged Premier William Lai (賴清德) to conduct another Cabinet reshuffle, saying that the public would not tolerate his team.
Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers called for rules mandating passengers on tour buses to fasten their seat belts to be introduced.
DPP Legislator Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) said that he supports introducing penalties for drivers, conductors or passengers who do not use seat belts on tour buses, but that it would be difficult to determine which party should be punished in the case that a passenger is found to not have fastened the seat belt.
“All the passengers would have fastened their seat belts before inspection personnel embark the vehicle, so there would be no one for them to punish,” Wang said.
He drew a parallel between bus rides and flights, saying that in the future, a regulation could be put in place to require bus drivers or conductors to remind passengers to fasten seat belts as pilots and flight attendants would before flights.
“After this has been done, we can then think about who to punish,” Wang said, adding that more discussion is needed for the issue.
DPP Legislator Luo Chih-cheng (羅致政) said existing regulations only define punishments for drivers when passengers are caught not using seat belts, which is unreasonable, as drivers could not monitor passengers at all times.
He urged the ministry to submit drafts to the legislature as soon as possible, so that progress could be made on reviewing regulations.
Ministry Counselor Yang Yung-sheng (楊永盛) denied that the ministry had been negligent, saying that it had been working on drafts for amending the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act (道路交通管理處罰條例) since the crash in February.
However, Yang then seemed to contradict himself by saying that the ministry would likely have to take until the end of this year to deliver a draft to the legislature for review if it followed due legislative procedure.
Additional reporting by CNA
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