Statistics from the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) show that cash rewards given to people who reported “squid cars” (烏賊車) — vehicles spewing black smoke and other pollutants — totaled NT$4.7 million (US$160,000) last year, a record high.
The EPA said that air pollution in Taiwan is worse than in many developed countries because of its high vehicle density, about 607 cars or motorcycles per square kilometer.
To make up for limited inspection personnel and equipment, the EPA established a “squid cars” reporting system in 2009 that encourages the public to report suspected heavy-polluting vehicles by giving a cash reward of NT$300 for each valid report.
The reports are required to contain information, including the name, address and telephone of the reporting person, the type of vehicle, the vehicle’s license plate number and the section of road where the vehicle was spotted.
Statistics from the Bureau of Air Quality Protection and Noise Control showed that more than 150,000 report were confirmed as valid last year alone, with the majority being black smoke emitted from old, two-stroke motor scooters.
While most people may think that motor scooters emit fewer air pollutants than cars, they actually emit three or four times the amount of exhaust as cars, EPA officials said, adding that the more than 10 million in the nation emit about 330,000 tonnes of carbon monoxide each year.
Greater Kaohsiung had the highest number of valid reports — 146,000 — last year, followed by Greater Taichung and Taoyuan County.
The person who provided the most valid reports — 8,166 — received more than NT$2.44 million last year.