Tue, Aug 13, 2019 - Page 2 News List

New Taipei City mayor asks Tsai for more funds

CHALLENGE:The second phase of the Wanda MRT line would be entirely within the city’s limits, but the city receives less funding than other special municipalities

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

From third left, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung, President Tsai Ing-wen, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi and other officials hold signs with MRT line names on them at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) yesterday asked the central government for more funding for the city’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) projects.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) were in New Taipei City to hear a briefing on the Wanda MRT Line’s second phase, for which construction is to begin in 2021.

The first phase of the project was launched in 2017 and is expected to be completed by 2025.

When completed, the Wanda line would connect Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華) with New Taipei City’s Yonghe (永和), Jhonghe (中和) and Shulin (樹林) districts.

After the briefing, Hou said that Tsai spent the whole Sunday visiting temples in New Taipei City.

“One should worship gods, but gods are watching what people are doing. Getting things done is more important. Sorry, Madame President, you worship your gods and I do my own business,” he said.

The project’s second phase lies in the city in its entirety, Hou said, adding that while he takes full responsibility for the project’s completion, he still depends on support from the central government.

“The budget allocated for the project is about NT$55 billion [US$1.75 billion] and the city is supposed to bear NT$38 billion of it. New Taipei City has the lowest budget per capita among the six special municipalities, but it is entrusted with the task of implementing a railway project that affects people in the greater Taipei area. The president should appropriate resources considering this perspective,” Hou said.

Hou reiterated his promise that the second phase of the project would be completed by 2028, even though this would be after the end of his mayoral term.

Although central government officials have not rejected his requests, they have not pledged their support either, Hou said.

Nor have they promised to do anything for the city since he was elected mayor eight months ago, he said.

During his speech, Hou bowed to Tsai twice to plead for her assistance in initiating infrastructure projects in the city.

“The city is home to more than one-sixth of the nation’s population and its administrative area is eight times bigger than that of Taipei. However, the budget granted to it is the lowest among the six special municipalities. We hope that central government officials will be more concerned about the development of New Taipei City. I apologize for not being able to accompany you on your campaign tour on Sunday, but I would definitely accompany you when you come here to help facilitate the projects for us,” he said.

Hou also asked Tsai to support in other projects, including a light-rail system connecting Wugu (五股) and Taishan (泰山) districts, and an extension to the light-rail system in Tamsui District (淡水).

Tsai said that part of the government’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program has been used to fund the construction of the Wanda line.

Saying that she is a registered resident of Yonghe, Tsai thanked Hou for proposing the transportation projects.

“I visited the temples on Sunday to pray for peace in the nation. It does not matter that he [Hou] did not join me on the tour. What matters the most is that he works for the people and gets things done for them,” she said.

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