Supply and demand in the nation’s sand and gravel market has gradually begun to return to equilibrium, Minister Without Portfolio Wu Tze-cheng (吳澤成) said on Monday.
Wu, who chairs the Public Construction Commission, made the remark in a briefing to the Legislative Yuan’s Transportation Committee about the commission’s operations.
Many lawmakers expressed concerns over reported shortages of sand and gravel nationwide.
The problem was mainly caused by a postponement of dredging of the Gaoping River (高屏溪), which led to a shortage of sand and gravel in southern Taiwan, Wu said.
The shortage was also exacerbated by suppliers replacing older gravel trucks, leaving them with insufficient trucks to transport the materials, he said.
The supply of sand and gravel from the Gaoping River resumed on Jan. 10 after the Pingtung County Government restarted dredging, he added.
As for a shortage of sand and gravel in northern Taiwan, Wu said that the commission has asked the Ministry of Economic Affairs to increase the amount of the materials transported from eastern Taiwan.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications is to help facilitate the transportation of sand and gravel by speeding up processing at the Port of Taipei, he said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) said that most of the sand and gravel used in northern Taiwan is imported from China, which — along with Southeast Asian countries — has reduced exports of the materials.
Taiwan must be self-reliant in this regard, Yeh said.
There are 30,000 construction projects in Taiwan each year, which the commission should prioritize based on importance, region and launch date to avoid strain due to a lack of resources in one area, DPP Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) said, adding that failure to do so could delay all construction.
Despite the slight improvements in supply, a commission report provided to the committee showed that it has yet to fully meet demand for sand and gravel.
The amount of sand and gravel extracted from the Gaoping River last year fell by 1.94 million tonnes, while the inventories of the materials in southern Taiwan from May to December last year decreased by 6 million tonnes, the report said.
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