Ashfar: centralize public transport – planning, records and enforcement

MECD and CVLB

In the wake of the dissolution of the MECD and movement of the CVLB, some people may ask, ‘why was the commercial vehicles licensing board part of the Ministry of Entrepreneur and Cooperatives Development (MECD)?’

The answer is simple – The purpose of the MECD is to create entrepreneurship opportunities for Malaysians especially bumiputeras. The purpose of the CVLB was to create an ‘entrepreneurial’ environment for public transport. The idea was to create more competition and work/business opportunities, especially for bumiputeras.

Entrepreneurial Spirit

The problem is that the entrepreneurial spirit appeared in other forms – corruption and abuse, mostly. Another factor that has to be considered is that public transport does not work in the traditional ‘entrepreneurial’ fashion. You cannot have “competition” in the traditional sense. The government has to set very strict rules and responsibility, provide effective organization and strong enforcement.

In Malaysia the rules and responsibility were unclear, with organization divided among 13 agencies. Enforcement was non-existent and people took advantage of this.

Comments from PMBOA

This article Central system on bus drivers’ history needed from The Star describes some of the problems from the perspective of Datuk Ashfar Ali, president of the Pan-Malaysian Bus Operator’s Association.

Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association president Datuk Ashfar Ali said a real-time central database should be set up quickly to allow the operators to see their drivers and potential employees’ summons history.

“Now, the summonses from the Road Transport Department (JPJ), Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB) and police are put into separate systems,” he told The Star yesterday.

Because of the lack of update on the database, bus operators found it difficult to trace the summonses issued to errant drivers.

“How would I know when a driver has committed a traffic offence?” he said, adding that the police had even sent notices to some operators and asked for the records of their drivers for the past five years.

TRANSIT speaks with PMBOA

In speaking with Ashfar yesterday, Moaz from TRANSIT asked what the member bus operators of the PMBOA were doing to ensure that bad drivers or drivers with records did not get behind the wheel of their buses.

Ashfar responded that the PMBOA is an association of Bus-Operators’ Associations from the various states – hence it is only a mouthpiece and has little/no authority over its member operators. Since it is an Association it is self-funding and does not have the financial resources to operate a website or do research. It also does not have the clout to push for better standards of bus service.

This means that, while the PMBOA and/or the various state associations could go ahead and create guidelines, it would be up to the individual companies to enforce these guidelines.

The PMBOA does have a ‘blacklist’ of drivers who have records of summonses but this list is probably kept private and is not available for the public (TRANSIT) or government to view.

Ashfar has long called for centralized public transport, especially with planning, records and enforcement and is a supporter of SPAD.

TRANSIT says:

The news about SPAD is positive and we hope that it will make a difference – but the legislation will not be ready until the end of 2009 and SPAD will not be ready to operate until June 2010.

Until then happens, the PMBOA should work to restructure the association and push for all members to maintain a high quality of service standards. These standards should be derived through consultation with the government, SPAD, member operators and the public.

Ashfar also stated in the article that:

“I have told the Government about this many times through press statements and meetings but no one seems to be listening,” he said.

TRANSIT suggests that PMBOA needs to speak directly to the public. PMBOA can get a free blogsite (we like wordpress.com) and speak up so that the public can hear their side of the story. They can also post their blacklist of bus drivers there for everyone to see.

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