There is a clear rural-urban divide in Taiwan, and Hualien and Taitung counties should prioritize traffic infrastructure improvement, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said in Hualien’s Yuli Township (玉里) yesterday.
Ko on Friday began a three-day visit to the east coast, and arrived in Yuli yesterday morning.
The two counties have the highest annual traumatic injury mortality rate, at one casualty per 100,000 people, the majority of which are from traffic accidents, and one reason is that Provincial Highway No. 9 only has two lanes, making it difficult for drivers to safely overtake another vehicle, Ko said.
Photo: Wang Chin-yi, Taipei Times
“Provincial Highway No. 9 should be expanded to four lanes to reduce traffic injuries,” Ko said, adding that improved infrastructure is needed in the region.
There is clear rural-urban divide, he said, citing Taipei’s garbage bag fee policy that has led to it having the nation’s lowest waste generation per capita, and the city’s bilingual education policy, which is expected to take more than 10 years to expand to the entire nation.
Improved transportation is crucial for bridging the rural-urban gap, he said.
The South Link Line connecting Taitung with southwest Taiwan should be electrified and converted into a double-track railway, and the Suhua Highway needs more improvements, he said.
Some supporters hailed the mayor as “President Ko,” in a nod to reports he is mulling entering next year’s presidential race, and wished him well in the election.
Asked if it might difficult to gain support in the region, where the pan-blue camp has dominated for years, Ko said: “There are things beyond pan-blue or pan-green, so I came to take a look around, broaden my horizons and make more friends.”
Just as he never asked his patients about their political affiliations, he does not ask the township councilors theirs, he added.
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