Spotlight: On the road to better transport

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Spotlight: On the road to better transport

Postby admin » Wed May 28, 2008 2:04 am

KUALA LUMPUR: The land transport industry players want a single autonomous authority to handle them. Currently, operators have to deal with eight ministries and government agencies before their vehicles can go on the road.

This proposed single body could draw up a master plan to improve the land public transport system nationwide.

"We need a body that thinks collectively," public transport expert Prof Sulik Suleiman Salleh said, adding that the proposed agency should be run independently, with representatives from various agencies and non-governmental organisations.

The various ministries, departments, government-linked companies, state and local councils were all playing different roles, he said. "It not only slows down progress in improving public transport nationwide but also the quality of commercial vehicles and ways to reduce jams in the Klang Valley."

He said the government should have the political will to set up the single body to safeguard users.
"Road transport is the back bone of the country's economy and a single body is needed to approve laws, and enforce and safeguard users."

Furthermore, he said, under the present system, not one agency would step up to take the blame when an accident occurred .

Sulik also did not see the need for an agency to handle the issuance of taxi permits to Bumiputera entrepreneurs. Currently, this is being done by the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB).

"A special unit could be set up within the proposed agency to look into this."

Another public transport expert, Prof Rahim Mat Noor, claimed the present system was causing the industry to disintegrate. "It is not healthy as too many hands are involved."

He said the government had invested billions of ringgit in setting up RapidKL to improve public transportation in Klang Valley.

"But what about people in Ipoh, Kuantan and other parts of Malaysia? The single body would be able to plan at national level and execute it at state level."

Other than "disintegrated planning", he felt agencies like CVLB, which plans routes for buses and issues licences for express buses and taxis, were powerless.

"Why do we still need the CVLB? They don't have enough staff to carry out enforcement work on taxis which overcharge. If they do not have the manpower, who will discipline the drivers?"

While he supported the move by the government two years ago to set up a Public Transport Committee in the cabinet, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, he felt there were several more improvements to be made.

"RapidKL buses are comfortable but look at the condition of minibuses in Shah Alam and Kajang. They emit thick black smoke every day."

He said the proposed agency should be represented by the ministries of Entrepreneur and Co-operative Development, Transport and Works, other cabinet members, NGOs and public transport experts.

Pan Malaysian Lorry Owners Association president Er Sui See said the various government agencies had created "little Napoleons" who were all out to exercise their power.

His frustration was with Puspakom, the agency checking the vehicle smoke emissions every six months for commercial vehicles, and the Department of Environment, which conducted regular spot checks.

"The department does not recognise checks carried out by Puspakom. Despite getting approval from Puspakom, we are slapped with fines up to RM2,000 for black smoke emissions."

He wanted the single body set up as the current situation was hurting the pockets of commercial vehicle owners.

As for Pan Malaysian Bus Operators chairman Datuk Asraf Ali, he hoped the government would listen to their grouses.

"We have been proposing a single authority for years. But nothing has been done yet."

Asraf said the government should look at Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, which had one authority to manage the land transport industry.

By : Minderjeet Kaur
http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/ ... index_html
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