TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- After being mocked for giving out 10,000 free bottles "Air of Guguan" (谷關空氣), the government of Taichung Kuomintang (KMT) Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) is being criticized for spending NT$20 million (US$648,000) on 5 street sweepers that are not legally allowed to hit the city's streets.
Wu Chih-chao (吳志超), head of Taichung's Environmental Protection Bureau, told Liberty Times that the vehicles are certified by the EU Ecolabel. The removal efficiency of fine suspended particulates such as PM2.5 and PM10 is over 90 percent, said Wu.
Wu says it is hoped that the air quality of Taichung will be improved as the street sweepers do not emit exhaust gas or noises because they are battery powered. The vehicles can operate for eight hours after being charged.
Wu estimates that each electric street sweeper can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 74 metric tons per year and save 4,000 liters of fuel. However, current traffic regulations do not allow such vehicles to travel on the city's streets.
Therefore, Wu said he supports the government in its efforts and says the Taichung City government will formulate its own "approaches for the examination and certification of street cleaning machinery," which are in accordance with the decree of the Cabinet. Wu said he hopes the vehicles can hit the city's streets as soon as possible.
Taiwanese netizens found the fact that the costly street cleaners are not legally roadworthy to be ironic:
"This can [clean] 90 percent? Big sister, stop making such a fuss."
"Will mobile air cleaners be more laughable [有笑, Chinese homophone for 'effective' 有效]?"
"If five of them are taken to sweep the floor outside the cement plant, I'm sure it will be helpful."
"How many street cleaners could be hired to support their families with NT$20 million?"
"Now that we have sweeping robots does it mean we don't need air purifiers anymore?"
"The fundamental problem has not been resolved. They should build a pipeline from Guguan to Taichung and ship the air in directly."