Su calls for officials to be flexible with traffic management

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Thu, Dec 07, 2006 - Page 2

Invoking the bus crash in Tainan County that took 22 lives, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday urged his fellow government officials to take a "flexible" approach to traffic rules.

"When I say we should be `flexible,' I mean we should create or amend the law with more flexibility but enforce it strictly, according to real needs and the real situation. I am not encouraging everybody to be flexible about traffic violations," Su said.

The premier made his remarks during a weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday morning. Su started by discussing the "four-scale road maintenance levels" mechanism that is regarded as one of the causes of the tragedy.

The mechanism divides the country's roads into "national-level freeways," "provincial-level highways," "county-level boulevards" and "township-level roads."

The bus crash took place on a "township-level road," and some claim that the poor maintenance of the road and the lack of safety facilities at the scene contributed to the accident.

The premier suggested suspending the "four-scale road maintenance levels" mechanism.

"We cannot stubbornly persist with an old mechanism like this. I mean, it is not necessary, is it?" Su asked.

"The roads belong to the public. It is the government's responsibility to maintain the roads and keep them in good shape. It does not matter whether the roads belong to the central government or local governments," Su said.

As for the tour bus itself, the premier asked the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to amend the regulations appropriately and then strictly enforce them.

The ministry's latest statistics show that 90 percent of the tour buses on the nation's roads are "face-lifted."

A "face-lifted" bus has a chassis and engine provided by the vehicle's manufacturer and a frame, body and interior sourced from a local bodyshop. Most tour bus companies purchase "face-lifted" buses because they are cheaper to customize.