Thursday, April 16, 2009

Express Bus Tragedy: History Repeats Itself

Malaysia has one of the best roads systems in the world. However, our roads system has turned into a war zone where on an average, we have more than 18 deaths a day on Malaysia roads. The human factor of course plays an important role.

The express bus accident near Rawang is a classical example of history repeating itself. It demonstrates clearly that we never learn. The enforcement agency of JPJ is full of thunder but signifying nothing. Every time after an express bus crash with many deaths, we are promised that an enquiry will be conducted. The results of these enquiries have never been revealed to us.

What is appalling is that every time when there is a crash, we find that either the bus company or the bus driver have outstanding summons which have not been settled. The question is is there no enforcement or is there so much of hanky panky that enforcement only remains in name? In the last accident near Rawang, I read that the driver has 8 summons and the co-driver has 6 summons and 5 arrests, all for speeding. I am sure that the relevant authorities from the police to the JPJ must be aware of this. Why no action was taken?

After every accident, some senior officials or even politicians will promise action but often I have come to learn that in most of these cases, it is words that speak louder than action. I am sure punitive action can be taken against the bus company and the bus driver. Maybe it has been done and I don’t know.

The authority should revamp the whole system of licensing and enforcement. If the authorities are firm towards errant driver, I am sure our roads will be a safer one. In New Zealand and Australia and even great part of Europe, the bus driver is also the tour guide, he not only drives, as he drives, he has to do running commentary. To prevent speeding, they have to report at designated centre on their journey. From there, the authorities will know whether they are speeding or not.

I had the opportunity to travel in UK, New Zealand and part of Europe by bus and it was a pleasant drive. I observe that they drive carefully with no speeding since they know authorities will come down hard on them if they are caught violating traffic rules.

The authority should look at bus companies operating bus services. This may include drivers’ remuneration and benefits, hours of driving and frequency of trip. To pack the drivers’ remuneration to the frequency of trip without consideration for the welfare of the driver and the passengers should be condemned. There should be a more enlightened system of reward and punishment.








petestop said...

Indeed, we poured in donations by the millions for the 10+ dead due to 2004 tsunami and many of the millions is unaccounted for.

Yet, everyday, more than 10+ died on our roads.

To me, it totally does not makes sense, when the Govt can pull so much effort and budget for the tsunami victims, but unable to resolve the daily roadkill.

One thing I find, if compared to US or Europe, is that our road system encourages people to break the law and drive dangerously.

For example, you get roads that from 2 lanes suddenly becomes 1 lane without any signs at all.

Penang roads are the most notorious, and there is no wonder Penang driver is considered the worse driver in Malaysia.

SuNi's Kitchen said...

I am just wondering how these bus operators can still employ drivers with so many summonses. Just ridiculous !

Kenneth said...

Please tell Ong Tee Keat.

Most of the express bus drivers in Malaysia have outstanding summons and they get off scotfree because no punitive action is taken against them.
We practise 'hangat-hangat tahi ayam' policy especially the Transport Ministry. Whenever there is a bus tragedy, Ong Tee Keat will promise action, action, action. But just look! Any improvement? Promise remains promise! Cakap senanglah, tapi mana tindakannya?
JPJ is more concerned about safety belts of the 'back-seaters'.
Just ask Ong Tee Keat, who is at the wheel of the vehicle? The one sitting at the back, using a remote control?
Yes, I too had the pleasure of travelling by bus in Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Just see the difference, please!
Is that what we call "Malaysia Boleh"?

Bob said...

I believe we are all looking at the wrong cause.
Before we start pointing fingers at the bus driver, please look at the road.

Can I ask, how many of you have been in our tour/express buses on the highway? Even with the buses travelling at the speed limit say 90km/h, IF THEY drive over a "small " pothole OR a joint on the road or a depression i.e. the road is not smooth or even. The bus will start bucking like a horse.

I dare say, that if you look at the site of where the driver of the bus began to loose control, you will find that there was some imperfection on the road.

IT WAS THE ROAD! The corruption and tutup satu mata mentality and blaming God for the accident was the cause.

Think bout it!

jlshyang said...

I'm glad you brought this up Dr. Chua. The same has been said year after year. A friend of mine died in a well publicised express bus accident last January which prompt us to launch an awareness campaign which has collected close to 10,000 signatures from the Malaysian public, was highlighted in the media for a few weeks but until today nothing has changed.

In fact, the relevant authorities kept silent about it and swept it under the carpet after months have gone by and it's back to business as usual.We don't even know the outcome of the so-called inquiry and the fate of the bus driver who had 13 outstanding summons (whether he was charged and convicted or what).

I certainly hope you can use your stature and influence in MCA to bring this up to the higher authority, ie. MCA President Ong Tee Keat who is also the Transport Minister. Our system urgently needs to be overhauled. As long as it is not done, history will repeat itself yet again. It remains to be seen if our leaders have the political will to effect a change.

Mike said...

Actually it is amazing that this sort of generalized statement ‘MALAYSIA HAS ONE OF THE BEST ROAD SYSTEM IN THE WORLD’ coming from a wise and well-informed guy like you. Really unbelievable…

Again going back to the KPI things you mentioned earlier, this sort of assessment coming from whom? Is it another government report or a renounced international survey?

Actually I am a lay man, my assessment coming from my day to day experience of using the urban tolls highway. My conclusion is many of the highways are haphazardly planned and constructed. There are so many spur, take off, exist, in the middle of highway, right side of highway, left side of highway, signage confusing, intersection too close causing weaving, and the cone things in the middle of the road …. Ask the motorists who like it….

The other day I was taking KL Seremban Hwy heading south near old airport, exit towards East West link and wanted to joint back Besraya Hwy, bloody hell there was this new take off call KL Putrajaya Hwy on the right lane where Besraya used to be. I almost get kill by an express bus tailing behind me…. What a F…. design.

Need more… LDP where is the emergency lane? Doesn’t all highway need an emergency lane for emergency? Who is this smart Alex that omit this requirements. Federal Highway towards Angkasapuri, the New Pantai Express Hwy take off on the none typical right lane and at a sharp bend. Is this acceptable? Not to mention the MRRII, Sprint. Smart tunnel etc. It doesn’t take a transportation planner to figure out what was wrong and you call this THE BEST ROAD SYSTEM IN THE WORLD.

Now back to this KPI things, we have been talking about high accidental rate and fatality rate in Malaysia for ages. What have we done about it? Black box on bus, surveillance camera, plain cloth inspector on bus, operation 1 to what 25 now? Back seat safety belts if not fastern can send to you to jail,... When is it going to end. And further once we set the KPI let say, express bus fatality rate must reduce by 10% each year and if fail how?

Fire OTK ?

Pongsak said...

Dear Datuk,
You don't have to look so far, just look at our neighbour Singapore how their bus driver behave. Well I have nothing more to say accept this is Malaysia Boleh! Now do you know why one of the reason BN loose the by election?

bantiek said...

OKT should be fired. Leaders lead by example. Road transport is under his purview. He is responsible for his subordiantes'negligence.

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