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Gravel industry in eastern Taiwan calls for government help

A protest staged by gravel industry in Taoyuan County in the Feb. 4 2009 file photo. The gravel industry in eastern Taiwan's Hualien County asked the ...

A protest staged by gravel industry in Taoyuan County in the Feb. 4 2009 file photo. The gravel industry in eastern Taiwan's Hualien County asked the ...

The gravel industry in eastern Taiwan's Hualien County, facing a severe crisis it says has been brought on by the global economic slump and a quota system, asked the government Tuesday to ease the constraints it argues are hamstringing the sector.

The Hualien Gravel Industry Association said 80 percent of its more than 60 members have put workers on unpaid leave, while 70 percent of the companies had operated only 10 days over the past three months.

The association attributed the crisis not only to the current economic downturn but also to a restrictive quota system and urged the government to allow Hualien businesses to dig more gravel to meet market demand, especially in northern and western Taiwan.

Before 2004, Hualien exported between 1.1 million and 1.3 million metric tons per month, and at least 11.2 million metric tons a year, it said.

Also some 60 percent of the gravel used in the greater Taipei area was traditionally supplied from Hualien, with 20 percent from China and the remaining 20 percent locally dug.

But since 2007, when strict caps on gravel exploitation in Hualien were imposed and increasing volumes of gravel were imported from China, the industry in the county has fallen on hard times.

And now, it has been hit hard again by the global financial tsunami, the association said, resulting in Hualien County supplying only 5 percent to 10 percent of the gravel needed in the greater Taipei area.

The association said there is a ready stock of gravel to be exploited because Hualien’s riverbeds have high levels of sediment from the several typhoons that hit Taiwan every year.

It pointed out that it would take only two months for Hualien to supply some 2.7 million metric tons of gravel needed in a series of public construction projects being promoted by the central government to prop up Taiwan's economy.

Removing the quota control system and allowing Hualien businesses to dig more gravel will not only clean up local rivers but also help the local industry and its workers continue to survive, the association argued.


Updated : 2021-07-25 01:18 GMT+08:00