Protesters rally against National Freeway No. 7

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - Page 3

More than 100 people yesterday protested in front of the Greater Kaohsiung Government against the local government’s proposal to build National Freeway No. 7.

The freeway project — to build a 23km stretch of north-south freeway from the Renwu (仁武) interchange of National Freeway No. 3 to the South Star area (南星計劃區) near Kaohsiung Harbor, was proposed by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, but was rejected by an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) meeting last month.

As the conclusion will be sent to the next EIA general assembly meeting tomorrow for a final decision, officials from the local government took part in a preparatory meeting at the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday, arousing concerns from environmental groups and local residents about the local government’s “somewhat underhanded action” and its insistence on proceeding.

Environmental activists Citizens of the Earth, Taiwan said the freeway would have a negative impact on the habitat of migrating raptors in the area, destroy farmland, worsen flooding by making farmlands into roads and harm local residents through land expropriation. The group also said that spending up to NT$61.6 billion (US$2.05 billion) building eight intersections on such a short stretch of freeway was not economically viable.

“Why do you [the government] insist on developing a road through other people’s farmland?” a Daliao District (大寮) resident surnamed Lin (林) asked.

The chairman of a self-help association against the freeway project, surnamed Chien (簡), said the EIA specialists had already determined the project to be inappropriate and may damage the health of nearby residents, so he does not understand the government’s insistence on the project.

Transportation Bureau Deputy Director Chen Ching-fu (陳勁甫) said the bureau feared the new EIA committee members were not familiar with the previous review of the case, so it took the opportunity to explain to the committee members before the general assembly takes place tomorrow.