MALAYSIAN APEC/ASEAN LEAD CONSUMERIST AMBASSADOR DR JACOB GEORGE ASKS – HOW LONG WILL MALAYSIANS TOLERATE THE ROAD CARNAGE ON MALAYSIAN ROADS?

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“Only companies that are financially sound, administratively run with competent management and following compliance schedules should be given an operating license.

These companies should be monitored with regular intervals and spot checks by a team from stakeholders from SPAD, the Police, the Ministry of Transport the JPJ and from civil society NGOs like CASSA!”

MALAYSIAN APEC/ASEAN LEAD CONSUMERIST AMBASSADOR DR JACOB GEORGE ASKS – HOW LONG WILL MALAYSIANS TOLERATE THE ROAD CARNAGE ON MALAYSIAN ROADS?

It is a fact that there has been far too may road accidents involving heavy vehicles and in particular passenger transport buses!

Far too many deaths too!

So who do we hold accountable for these tragedies and monumental incompetence?

The Ministry of Transport, the JPJ, the Police, SPAD or the so called “public interests voices of recycled idiots” who after each and every accident with obsession take to the press to make comments trying to gain media exposure using other people’s tragedy for their private and personal interests!

This includes some, with honorifics of “Datuk and Tan Sri!”

Never mind it can be death from an industry accident, it can be a crane falling on a vehicle in a public space with fatalities, it can be road carnage involving our public transport system or even a collapsing building or fire!

The irony is, all we see and hear, is after each media press releases they move on to every other issue on God’s earth!

They think their recycled and plagiarized press statements are the answer to address these systematic weaknesses in our current system or heightening the blame game?

The fact is without a serious attempt to address the present systemic and apparent weaknesses in the public transport sector and of vicarious responsibility expected, nothing will come forth positively!

The December 24 Muar crash where I lost two of my work colleagues, I predict, will not be the last tragedy until and unless private and personal greed and interest is eradicated!

Fourteen people died at the scene in what is to be for now, the worst bus crash since the Genting Highlands crash three years ago, which killed 37 people.

Of course, there have been other crashes at Genting Highlands before that going back to the time, dear Uncle, Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik was Transport Minister!

I remember sitting with him after one such tragedy in the 90’s prior to addressing the matter on the then popular Face to Face program over TV3!

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To put in a nut shell there are primarily Six major causes of bus accidents:

1) Thanks to the commission element, no proper salary and lack of competent drivers, driver fatigue sets in due to long hours driving the bus.

2) Secondly, very poor maintenance of the vehicle pre and post travel. The maximization of vehicles without proper checks, maintenance, and other protocols internationally recognized.

3) Either reckless driving or driving way above the speed limit resulting in loss of control of the bus.

4) The very poor road conditions like potholes, hazardous foreign objects found on the highways.

5) The folly of not implementing the much called for Black Box that was to be made compulsory from the 80’s for all buses to have which would allow bus companies to have operational command of its vehicle, but till today, not implemented allegedly, due to corruption and the incompetence and lack of political will?

6) The present weakness of proper selection of driver to employ and subsequent training on road etiquette and defensive driving, which includes personal background checks with the assistance of the Police and a full comprehensive medical check!

We need to acknowledge that there are several stakeholders in public policy deliberations, the running, management and licensing of public transport systems in Malaysia!

It is regrettable that the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) is blamed each time a public transport vehicle, such as an express bus, gets into an accident!

Not all – matters of public transport came under the purview of SPAD.

Many, come under the jurisdiction of the Road Transport Department (JPJ) and the police as well!

For the moment among the new changes forthcoming under SPAD to improve the safety of public buses, are the barring of double-decker buses from traveling on high ground, making a second brake system mandatory in buses and disallowing standing passengers.

In conclusion, I would suggest a few quick fixes on the licensing, operations and management of public transport namely bus companies!

We should come out with a benchmark for drivers and their salaries accordingly to international standards and guidelines.

We need to re-look at the licensing of public bus transports companies.

Only companies that are financially sound, administratively run with competent management and following compliance schedules should be given an operating license.

These companies should be monitored with regular intervals and spot checks by a team from stakeholders from SPAD, the Police, the Ministry of Transport the JPJ and from civil society NGOs like CASSA!

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I will have a word with dear friends, the Deputy Prime Minister/Home Minister, the Transport Minister, the IGP, the SPAD Chief on this matter as they are very committed to address the tragedies immediately too.

And I am certain, they will support to prevent any breaches or tragedies like the Muar incident, be immediately followed by a suspension of one’s operating license until such time, an immediately set up team of compliance and safety regulators from the group of stakeholders team clears the said company of any form of recklessness, negligence or failure to run the company as agreed upon by the terms and conditions by which the said license was given!

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