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Mayors Meet to Discuss Greater Taipei Issues

*On the morning of March 11, Mayor Ko Wen-je met with a visiting delegation of led by his counterpart from New Taipei City – Mayor Hou Yu-ih. The city governments of Taipei and New Taipei have long-standing and cordial ties of collaboration, and thus the meeting’s agenda focused on expanding their areas of future exchange and collaboration.
After the meeting, both mayors appeared for a joint press conference. Reporters initially focused on the Road along the North Bank of the Tamsui River and the Environmental Impact Assessment of this traffic infrastructure project.
Mayor Ko said that any traffic infrastructure construction should be considered in its entirety and specialized issues should be resolved by specialists. Future Environmental Impact Assessment meetings regarding Phase II of the Road along the North Bank of the Tamsui River will be handled in accordance with the rules. Any undertaking by the government aims to create the greatest good for as many people as possible, and the fact that the Road along the North Bank of the Tamsui River Project was passed indicates that from the specialist perspectives of traffic planning and environmental protection, the highway project overall represents an improvement in terms of traffic.
Mayor Hou added that, due to an injury, he had been unable to personally attend the mayoral-level meeting of the Greater Taipei Cooperation and Exchange Platform in February, and he felt sorry that the Taipei Mayor had to chair the meeting alone. The first purpose of today’s visit is to publicly express his gratitude to Mayor Ko for shouldering that task.
He went on to stress that his second purpose of today’s meeting was to discuss the Road along the North Bank of the Tamsui River Project. In every meeting, Mayor Ko would use a scientific attitude to confront and resolve issues, and he would always show concern for New Taipei’s traffic problems.
New Taipei City residents commuting to Taipei have been eagerly awaiting the Road along the North Bank of the Tamsui River. Whether the highway would generate traffic issues for Taipei should be left to the assessment of specialists, Mayor Hou said, adding that Mayor Ko’s attitude is very clear, namely that the construction should proceed from where it is after the EIA meeting, and that they should “do what needs to be done”. So, Mayor Ko’s view is to support, through an objective process, this project’s progress.
A reporter asked Ko Wen-je about his main considerations regarding Taipei investing in a project that mainly or only benefits New Taipei City. The reporter quoted analysts suggesting that Mayor Ko’s financial support for what is essentially a New Taipei City infrastructure project aims to win support from that city’s residents in future presidential elections. Has Mayor Hou noticed such an atmosphere?
Mayor Ko emphatically clarified that his focus is on completing the entire project. As for the budgets allocated by both sides, Mayor Ko stated that we shouldn’t be too narrow-minded when collaborating with other cities or counties. The infrastructure cost is borne in part by Taipei, and for another part by New Taipei. Both sides have early on agreed on the principles behind the proportion of their contributions to the joint project, and both mayors mean to keep their word. Taipei is not paying New Taipei’s part at all. And this has nothing to do with seeking support from New Taipei City residents. People are simply reading too much into it, the Mayor said.
Some construction projects are evidently a good thing, he added, and he personally doesn’t fancy, as has happened, when both sides calculate and argue over the construction cost of every mile, causing unnecessary delays.
Mayor Hou added that during the discussions, he felt Mayor Ko’s pragmatic approach of simply making policies happen. Just do what needs to be done. Let specialists take care of it. Mayor Hou underscored that the so-called “living circles" of both cities are closely integrated, so this project too must be regarded in a holistic way rather than from the perspective of one city only.
The mayor of New Taipei asserted that the cooperative spirit and concerted efforts of both cities benefit all people living and working in Greater Taipei. In fact, both cities’ life circles overlap so much: many New Taipei City residents work in Taipei City and vice versa. Mayor Hou concluded by thanking, on behalf of the people of New Taipei City, Mayor Ko for his expert-reliant approach to the Tamsui Highway Project and removing the obstacles to its progress and completion.