Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Suhua Highway



I've long wanted to dedicate a page to this magnificent stretch of road between Hualien and I-lan, so here it is. Enjoy. While you're at it, sober up from the magnificent views with some alternative commentary on the Suhua Highway and the despoiling of Hualien from the great environmental blog Wild at Heart. Does Taiwan run on cement? You bet.

What is most telling, however, is that a cost/benefit analysis has not been done. That is, not one government agency has begun work on the basic evaluation that must be performed after the conditions in the environmental assessment report have been resolved (if indeed they can be resolved). Surprising? Perhaps, but they have just been putting off the inevitable, for the analysis will surely come up short, bringing the entire project into question.

Nor have administrative agencies (Ministry of Transportation and Communications, Council for Economic Planning and Development, Environmental Protection Administration and so on) followed their own internal procedures. While this would have been standard procedure under the old government, we expect more from a government that espouses transparency.

Yes, politics has played a major role in the project. A very sweet business opportunity lies along the east coast. It may have been sweeter during the bygone days when People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) was governor of "Taiwan Province" and could manipulate billions of dollars in questionable transactions.

But even today the administration of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) seems unable or unwilling to say no to local governments and their environmentally challenged east coast contractor cronies.

The business groups that control the cement factories have a lot at stake here, and they are but the tip of the iceberg of those seeking a million ways to create "business opportunities." As long as these businesses have excess capacity -- and they certainly will, as long as the government continues to heavily subsidize their utilities, transportation and labor -- there will be immense pressure to open up and spread concrete and asphalt over the entire area of Taiwan's east coast counties.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

michael:
you are way cuter when not talking about politics

Scott Sommers said...

This is the scariest place I have ever driven.

Roy Berman said...

You think concrete pork is a problem in Taiwan, you should see Japan.