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Taiwanese truck driver in legal jam after damaging old city wall

Following new law, accountability for damaging historic sites no longer as simple as paying for repairs

(Hengchun police photo)

(Hengchun police photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A truck driver is in trouble after his truck hit a national historic landmark in southern Taiwan on Saturday night (Sept. 11).

Police in Hengchun Township, Pingtung County received reports at around 5 p.m. on Saturday that the north gate of the township’s old wall was damaged, with brick debris all over the ground, CNA reported. After reviewing surveillance video, the police found a truck had hit the gate.

According to police, even though the north gate allows vehicles to pass through, there is a height limit of 2.1 meters, with a warning sign erected beside the road. As the truck was taller than 2.1 meters, the truck hit the top of the gate’s arch.

After not being able to maneuver the vehicle through, the driver, surnamed Chen (陳), backed out and left the scene, leaving the gate damaged, with bricks and stones strewn everywhere.

After collecting evidence, police summoned Chen to account for what happened on Saturday night, and he confessed. The case was referred to the Pingtung County’s Cultural Affairs Department for meting out punishment.

According to police, it was not the first time Chen got into trouble with his driving. Last week, when he was delivering goods, his truck got stuck at the side entrance of the Hengchun Precinct. In another recent accident, he crashed his truck into someone’s trellis.

The Hengchun city wall is 146 years old and designated as a class two national monument. It has the most complete city wall structure in the nation, with the east, west, south and north gates and part of the wall still standing.

Currently, only the north and west gates are open for traffic. Both gates have a vehicle height limit of 2.1 meters and have been crashed into by vehicles many times over the years, with the drivers usually just paying for the repairs.

However, the penalties for damaging historic sites have become more complicated, as the newly promulgated Cultural Heritage Preservation Act stipulates that anyone who destroys or damages a monument “shall be punished with imprisonment from six months up to five years, and a fine of NT$500,000 (US$18,000) to NT$20,000,000 could be imposed.”

Updated : 2021-09-28 07:56 GMT+08:00