MOTC told to submit train safety improvement plan in one month
Taipei, April 6 (CNA) A resolution passed by lawmakers on Tuesday has demanded that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) submit a train safety improvement plan within a month in the wake of a fatal train crash last Friday in which 50 people died and more than 200 were injured.
The resolution, proposed by the opposition Taiwan People's Party (TPP), requires the MOTC to report to the lawmaking body on its selection and review of contractors based on their industrial safety histories.
The MOTC should also come up with a list of Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) contractors that have records of violations of industrial safety and other mishandling, according to the TPP resolution.
The TRA is the agency under the MOTC responsible for managing non-bullet train passenger and freight rail services in Taiwan.
However, two other resolutions proposed by the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) failed to pass during the same session Tuesday in the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-controlled Legislature.
One of the KMT resolutions required Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), and Deputy Transport Minister Chi Wen-jong (祁文中), who concurrently serves as acting TRA head, to step down to take political responsibility for the train accident. Lin has already offered to resign, but this has not been approved by Su.
Another resolution, meanwhile, asked the Legislative Yuan to come up with a special investigative committee to probe the circumstances of the accident and find those responsible.
After the two KMT-initiated resolutions failed to pass, KMT lawmakers staged a press event outside the Legislative Yuan, reiterating the party's call that Su and Lin should step down to take political responsibility for the deadly accident.
Negligence on the part of the DPP government is to blame for the accident, as the DPP administration appears to have learned nothing from previous train incidents involving the TRA, the KMT argues. Asked to comment, DPP Legislative Caucus Secretary-General Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) said the DPP will not dodge political responsibility for the tragedy and will conduct a review accordingly.
But that does not mean the KMT can overly exaggerate the responsibility to the level of premier and even to the president, just to score political points, Lo said.
He also said the DPP does not oppose the forming of a special investigative team within the Legislative Yuan, but such a team should be formed under the Legislature's Transportation Committee rather than at a plenary session.
The accident occurred at 9:28 a.m. on April 2 when a TRA express train traveling southbound hit a crane truck that had fallen onto the track near the entrance to the Qingshui Tunnel in Hualien County, eastern Taiwan.
An initial investigation found that the truck driven by Lee Yi-hsiang (李義祥) and parked at a construction site above the southbound track, slid down an incline onto the track, blocking the train's path.
It was yet to be established what led the parked truck to move and if it had anything to do with the truck's emergency brake not being properly engaged or some kind of mechanical failure.
Lee is currently in detention after a court denied him bail, citing fears that he could try to flee, collude with others, or destroy evidence, given the severity of what has been described as an alleged crime.
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