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.

马来西亚的道路系统堪称全球最完善之一。然而,它同时也犹如战区,交通事故频频,平均每日夺走18条人命,一般上人为因素是首要肇因。

最近在万挠发生的长途巴士车祸是历史再重演的典型例子,显示人们未吸取前车之鉴。陆路交通局执法组行动再雷厉,情况仍没有显著改善。每当发生长途巴士夺命车祸,有关当局都信誓旦旦全面彻查,但却从未向人民公布调查结果。


让人惊骇的是,交通意外往往揭发肇祸的长巴或该巴士公司都有不少未缴还的传票,让我们不禁怀疑,究竟是有关当局执法不力,还是背后有另有内情。根据报导,万挠那场车祸的肇祸巴士司机和副司机过去皆因超速被罚多张传票:司机8张、副司机6张,至今尚未缴还,后者还另有5张逮捕通知。我相信警方和陆路交通局的相关单位皆知情,为何没有采取进一步行动则不得而知。

通常车祸发生后,一些高级官员甚至有政治人物会承诺采取行动。但雷大雨小,据了解大部分个案最终都不了了之。我相信当局能以法制严惩涉案的巴士公司和司机。也许他们确实有这么做而我们却不知情。

有关当局有必要修该现有的执照发放和执法系统。我坚信,如果执法当局对付鲁莽司机的态度坚定,必能提高国内的道路安全。在纽西兰、澳洲及部分欧洲国家,巴士司机同时也兼任导游。他除了开车还得现场为游客解说。为防止超速驾驶,司机必须在既定的地点向有关当局报告,当局则能根据报告的位置和时间,鉴定对方是否违规超速。司机很清楚一旦违规将面对严厉的制裁,因此驾驶时很谨慎,也严守交通规则。

因此,有关当局应该认真检讨国内的巴士公司服务,包括司机的薪酬、福利、工作时间和上路频率等。仅以上路的频率来决定司机的薪酬,罔顾司机福利及乘客安全的巴士公司应该被对付。反之,公司应该设定更开明发性具启迪性的薪酬,鼓励从业者更认真负责地对待这份职业。

8 comments:

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.

http://buscrashnomore.blogspot.com

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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