By T K Chua
It’s sad that 14 more lives have been snuffed out simply because they needed to travel from one city to another.
Most of us are fed up with with the state of public transportation in this country, but perhaps we have to go on agitating and demanding for accountability.
It’s probable that the rate of fatal accidents in Malaysia is higher than in any other country at a similar stage of development. Each bus accident is like a mini plane crash. It’s time we stop comparing Malaysia with less developed countries and start examining ourselves. It’s time to stop leaving everything to fate. It’s time to sympathise with those who have lost their loved ones through unwarranted accidents.
Just look at the number of regulating and enforcement agencies we have – the Ministry of Transport, SPAD, Puspakom, JPJ and the traffic police. What have they been doing precisely?
The likely causes of major accidents involving express buses and other heavy vehicles are speeding, faulty or defective vehicles and drivers who are overworked, underpaid or addicted to drugs. Which of these factors is not related to some form of regulation and enforcement?
How often do express buses overtake us when we are already driving at 110 km/h, the maximum speed allowed on expressways? How often have express buses tailgated us as if the drivers want to shove us off the lane we are in? How often have we seen private cars zooming past us like lightning? How many of us feel that driving on our expressways is like going to war?
If we can experience all these daily on our expressways, why is it that our enforcement authorities don’t see them happening? Where have they been hiding?
Each time a major accident happens, the enforcement agencies will start doing their work in earnest, but only for a week or so. After that it is back to their laid back attitude.
Enforcement must be continuous and relentless. Punishments must be strict. We’re told that some bus drivers have 50 or 100 compounds pending. This shows a failure in enforcement procedures.
If buses and trucks have bald tyres, faulty brakes or other defects, the owners of these vehicles, Puspakom and the officials who did the last inspection must be held accountable. It is time to act. Please don’t just talk.
How many drivers of commercial vehicles, particularly express buses, are trained in safety and emergency procedures? For how many continuous hours do they have to drive when they are on duty? How strictly do the relevant authorities enforce health checks on them?
Maybe Malaysians in general do not value life much or are not concerned over the safety of others. But we need to start somewhere. It is the job of regulating authorities and enforcement agencies to set things right.
Drivers should be paid by the number of hours they are on duty, not by the number of trips they make. Their wages must sufficiently reflect their responsibility of ensuring the safety of passengers. And they must be in good health. We must make driving a respectable profession.
T K Chua is an FMT reader --FMT