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MOT must immediately beef up regulation of tour, express buses

Posted on 10 Jul 2024
Source of News: The Malaysian Insight
Published on 4 Jul 2024

THE Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) calls upon the Transport Ministry (MOT) to beef up enforcement of tour and express buses to reduce road accidents. Since 2022, there have been at least 32 express bus accidents in Malaysia.

The recent crash on June 29 in Genting Highlands killed two tourists. Transport Minister Anthony Loke revealed the bus had an expired permit, the driver was unlicensed, the bus had exceeded the time allowed to operate as it is over 15 years old, and the driver had 27 prior summonses.

CAP urges the MOT, the police, and the Road Transport Department to address these issues immediately, as they undermine passenger confidence. Invoking a seldom-used Road Transport Act provision to fine offending companies up to RM500,000 or imprison them for two years is insufficient. CAP suggests blacklisting company directors from operating transport businesses.

The Land Public Transport Agency can suspend or cancel licences under section 45 of the Land Public Transport Act 2010. CAP proposes integrating summons and traffic violation data with expiry dates for road tax and licences. Companies should have basic access to driver backgrounds to make informed hiring decisions.

The Road Transport Act 1987 mandates commercial vehicle inspections at Puspakom every six months. CAP recommends issuing stickers indicating inspection status, the next inspection date, and a whistle-blower hotline. These stickers should be prominently displayed near vehicle doors.

Bus drivers must know evacuation procedures and emergency exits, as evidenced by a January 2024 express bus fire in Alor Gajah, where a 17-year-old tourist died and seven others were injured due to being unaware of the presence of emergency exits.

 

Most accidents occur at night due to speeding and poor visibility, often causing microsleep. From 2011 to 2021, 1,305 people died on Malaysian roads due to microsleep.

Buses must have a co-driver for journeys over 300km, a legal requirement that is often violated due to the need to split the driver’s pay with the co-driver. Drivers sometimes make multiple trips with little rest, especially during peak seasons.

Ensuring that bus drivers receive adequate salaries and employment benefits is crucial for several reasons. Adequate compensation can reduce the need for drivers to take on multiple continual trips, which can be exhausting and unsafe.

Without proper rest, drivers’ concentration on the road can be severely impaired, leading to dangerous situations such as microsleep which can occur when someone is extremely tired. By providing sufficient pay and benefits, bus companies can help ensure their drivers are well-rested and able to maintain high levels of concentration, thereby enhancing overall road safety.

CAP urges the Transport Ministry to ensure express buses are equipped with mandatory GPS monitoring systems, a requirement since 2008.
 

The MOT must act quickly and decisively to restore express and tour bus passengers’ confidence, prioritizing safety above all. – July 4, 2024.

* Mohideen Abdul Kader is president of the Consumers’ Association of Penang

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.



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Last Updated On 19 Jul 2024

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