TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post Staff
Aborigines from a small town in Taichung County yesterday vowed to repair the mudslide-devastated Central Cross-island Highway on their own regardless of the government’s decision to halt the repair project for conservation reasons. The government has decided to temporarily shut down the Kuguan-Techih section of the highway, which was destroyed by the 9-21 Earthquake in 1999 and again by mudslides triggered by Typhoon Mindulle last month. However, the decision has angered aboriginal residents from the area, blaming the government for “giving them up” and turning a blind eye to their livelihoods. A group of angry aboriginal residents staged a protest near the highway and vowed to complete the repair work on their own with their bare hands. Voicing his support for the aborigines, Taichung County Magistrate Huang Chung-shen accused the central government of failing to come up with any supporting measures for the local residents while rushing the decision.
He plans to invite engineering experts to discuss the repair project in the hope of creating a win-win situation for the central and the regional government. Premier Yu Shyi-kun, who announced the suspension of the repair project on Thursday, stressed that the government will not change its stance after the protest. Some NT$1.7 billion has been spent on repairing the highway following several recent disasters.