WHILE Malaysia certainly provides a network of highways, dual carriageways and expressways for excellent accessibility, many of these mega roads may not be what they have been made out to be.
Some are just poorly designed, constructed and maintained.
Driving on the highway, what you least expect is to encounter uneven patches, sudden elevations and drops in the road, potholes, poorly resurfaced plots, cracked surfaces and giant puddles.
I am an extremely careful, law-abiding driver but more and more, I find myself literally having to keep my eyes on the road — not just focused on the car ahead and my surroundings — to be able to react quickly to hazards ahead.
Having had the opportunity to drive when abroad, I understand and appreciate why highways, such as Germany’s autobahn, have no speed limit, whereas the fastest you’re allowed on our highways is 110kmh — drive any faster here and you might find yourself literally being thrown off the road!
Somewhere along the line, we and the powers that be have forgotten that good quality roads form the foundation of excellent road safety.
While we continue to educate and drill into motorists the fundamentals of driving safely, and take stern action against traffic offenders, the bigger picture everyone seems to have missed is to provide good roads to drive on.
Poor-quality roads also inflict plenty of damage on our vehicles, damage the tyres, wreak havoc on the vehicle’s alignment and cause bent and cracked wheels. All this, in turn, affect the vehicle’s overall roadworthiness and the safety of drivers and passengers.
How easy it is to cite examples such as the glaring warning signboards (uneven roads ahead) when driving up on the North-South Expressway near Taiping. This has been the situation for years. The question is, why not level the road instead?
The road near Nilai from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport is infamous for being bumpy.
Surely, in the context of today’s motoring requirements, the millions, if not billions, of ringgit spent on constructing roads should not stop at just providing good accessibility.
It is equally important to have roads that are engineered to last, and are of superior design and quality.
Driving on the East-West Highway from Gerik to Jeli, a stretch then built by the Public Works Department, I am amazed at the design, construction, quality and thought that went into constructing it.
The roads until today remain very smooth, your vehicle corners on proper camber for excellent traction, and the stretches have a naturally good flow that allow you to maintain a safe speed.
It certainly isn’t flawless, but it’s one of the best roads I’ve driven on for a long time.
Compare this with the standard of today’s highways and other dual carriageways, and you have to ask yourself how Malaysian road engineering and building has declined so badly over recent years.
Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu has often argued that the toll charges in Malaysia are among the lowest in the region. To a certain extent I believe the minister is correct; and for the same reason, look at what we end up with today.
I appeal to the prime minister, the deputy prime minister, our works minister and representatives from the Malaysian Highway Authority as well as Public Works Department to take a drive along the North-South Highway — from Johor Baru to Bukit Kayu Hitam — and some of the other recently constructed highways and dual carriageways to experience for themselves the poor quality of our roads.
Raise toll charges by all means but, first, give us better quality roads.
HARRIS ISKANDAR TAIB, Shah Alam
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