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Chief of NFB reprimanded for eTag issues

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- National Freeway Bureau (NFB) Director-General Tseng Dar-jen (曾大仁) yesterday received two admonitions due to the recent issues related to the eTag electronic toll collection (ETC) system, which was launched on Dec. 30, 2013.

According to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), the punishment was approved by Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) on Friday.

The MOTC said that Tseng received the punishment due to a failure to fulfill his responsibilities in monitoring the new ETC system.

Tseng said that ever since the new system was launched, there have been many complaints from drivers about the eTag system falsely issuing charges.

Tseng requested that he be held responsible and punished accordingly for the glitches.

“I accept any punishment,” he said. “The most important thing for me right now is to supervise the Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co. (FETC) and improve the (ETC) system to prevent further issues from affecting drivers.”

During the Executive Yuan's weekly meeting last Thursday, Premier Jiang Yi-huah demanded that the MOTC issue a severe administrative punishment to the NFB over the numerous problems and complaints resulting from the eTag system.

On Jan. 2-3, the nation's new ETC system falsely charged over 100 drivers. The FETC later apologized and promised to compensate those drivers.

Meanwhile, on Jan. 1, the FETC discovered an extremely high traffic load on its app system, leading it to believe that the system was under attack. The company immediately shut the system down to protect users' information from being leaked and subsequently notified the police.

However, Minister without Portfolio Chang San-cheng (張善政) said on Jan. 15 that according to the Information & Communication Security Technology Center's investigation, the app crash was due to faulty design instead of a cyber attack.

Protests Against eTag System Nationwide

Tainan City Councilor Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) yesterday launched a protest against the eTag system.

Wang gathered nearly 100 vehicles with stickers stating their boycott of the eTag system in a “flash mob.”

Vehicular flash mobs also took place in Kaohsiung City and Yilan City at the same time yesterday, while protesters in Taipei handed out stickers promoting a boycott and urged people to return their eTag stickers.

According to the protesters, there is no regulation stating that it is mandatory to have eTag stickers in order to use the highways, and drivers who do not use the eTag system can still travel 20 kilometers for free each day.

The protesters said that the FETC is only concerned with making a profit, and has so far failed to find new jobs for former highway toll collectors as it promised.

Protesters also demanded that the government draw a distinct line between itself and big business in order to better protect public interests.

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