Gov’t needs report before opening highway bidding


TAIPEI, Taiwan — Premier Wu Den-yih promised yesterday that the government would begin holding tenders for work on a project to improve the safety of the Suhua Highway immediately after the plan passed an environmental impact assessment.

The project, he said, could be completed by the end of 2016 or earlier if the environmental impact assessment were conducted and passed in a strict and just manner, and the construction proceeded without any obstacles.

The premier also vowed to spend a significant sum to maintain the vital roadway linking Yilan and Hualien counties in eastern Taiwan before the completion of the upgrade project.

Ruling Kuomintang Legislator Wang Ting-sheng, who questioned Wu on the issue at a legislative hearing yesterday, also asked the Taiwan Railways Administration to increase service on eastern Taiwan rail lines while work on the road improvement was underway.

According to the premier, the Cabinet asked the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) in late September to conduct an environmental impact assessment of the improvement project, and the first meeting of the EPA’s panel of experts was held on Oct. 18.

The issue gained urgency after the accident-prone highway was hit by a series of landslides during heavy rains brought by Typhoon Megi last week, leaving one person dead and 25 others missing.