Tue, Dec 18, 2018 - Page 2 News List

Bureau questioned over NT$651m in unpaid tolls

HIGHWAY SAFETY:Legislators also urged the Freeway Bureau to enhance safety as 43 people, including five police officers, died at freeway construction projects

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The legislature’s Transportation Committee yesterday pressed the Freeway Bureau to step up collection of unpaid toll fees, which it said have risen to hundreds of millions of New Taiwan dollars over the years.

Accumulated unpaid tolls have increased from NT$29 million (US$939,423) in 2013 to NT$651 million this year, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Cheng Pao-ching (鄭寶清) said, citing bureau statistics.

The amount of unpaid toll fees has spiked since 2013, when the government started charging motorists based on distance traveled, People First Party (PFP) Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said at a meeting to review the bureau’s budget for next year.

What is worse, the bureau spends nearly NT$200 million each year informing drivers about their unpaid tolls via registered mail, he said.

Bureau Director-General Chao Hsin-hua (趙興華) said that 83 percent of the unpaid tolls were for owners who were planning to either dispose of or sell their old vehicles, while about 10 percent were from drivers who have continually skipped payments.

The bureau has since last year focused on collecting from drivers who owe more than NT$5,000 in tolls, with the Ministry of Justice’s Administrative Enforcement Agency now in charge of collecting them.

The agency has so far collected about NT$80 million in unpaid fees, Chao said.

Legislators also questioned the bureau over highway construction safety.

DPP Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) said that 43 people have died at freeway construction projects over the past 10 years, including five highway police officers.

Another 37 officers have been injured since 2011, he said.

The National Highway Police Bureau has the highest death rate among the National Police Agency’s units, Lee said, urging the Freeway Bureau to assist the police bureau in protecting the lives of highway officers.

The Freeway Bureau has started using devices designed to protect highway officers, including red-and-blue police strobe lights when stopping motorists suspected of driving violations and impact protection vehicles when there are traffic accidents or highway construction projects, Chao said.

It also plans to start using traffic cones that are equipped with sensors, with six to 10 sensors each, he said.

Whenever a vehicle comes near or hits the cones, the sensors will transmit warning signals to other devices and alert people with lights and loud sirens, he said.

Each set of sensor-equipped traffic cones, which are locally manufactured, costs about NT$100,000, Freeway Bureau Deputy Director-General Wu Mu-fu (吳木富) said.

The bureau plans to use the cones in certain freeway sections in central Taiwan during nighttime highway construction in the first half of next year, he said.

The trial is to last for about six months and the bureau would expand their use if the results are positive, Wu said.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top