TRANSIT is very horrified to learn on the bus crash near Simpang Ampat exit of the North South Expressway. It seems that we have learn nothing from the past.
The following commentary by the Malay Mail really bites.
Comment by Frankie D’Cruz
REMBAU: Accident is written on most express buses plying our highways.
There is little civic-consciousness among express bus drivers. They are bullies and behave like kings of the road with their powerful European designed buses.
TRANSIT Says: Buses in Malaysia may look ‘European’ from the outside, but the structural integrity might not even pass the European safety standards.
Passengers of the ill-fated Delima Express said the bus meandered dangerously at lightning speed and that the driver seemed to be ahead of all other vehicles.
Despite numerous horrific crashes involving express buses, passengers remain victims of negligence and indifference on the part of commercial vehicle operators.
The strain and sorrow of victims and their families after a fatal bus crash are terrifying, but the public fury and official concern remain only for as long as the spotlight is on.
The rhetoric from the authorities such as “we are giving express bus travel our highest priority” is already flowing.
We will soon know if the driver of the ill-fated Delima Express was a speed fiend and had summonses for speeding.
The autopsy will show if he was drunk or was under the influence of drugs while driving.
We will never know if it was sleep deprivation. Then, we will listen to some yarn from the company about how it values the safety of passengers and that its drivers undergo rigorous safety training.
We would probably get this statement from a road safety expert “it’s high time drastic action is taken to curb the instances of fatal bus crashes and make safety training and defensive driving courses compulsory for bus operators”.
Another will hope deplorably that the Simpang Ampat incident would be a lesson to all express bus drivers.
Like, they would ever learn. We wonder about the timing of such statements.
We wonder why passengers in this, and previous, bus crashes were ejected from the vehicle. What happened to making seat-belt use in buses compulsory? We wonder why the authorities refuse the use of alternative materials, such as the wire-rope barrier technology — that cushions a vehicle’s impact, and then safely redirects the vehicle — instead of traditional guardrails.
We wonder why the black box ruling went by the wayside even if it records the operating parameters of the bus just before a crash. We wonder what happened to the special unit set up at each bus depot to check on the fitness of every departing vehicle and the driver.
Then, it will all happen again.
It is sad that the number of people killed in the accident are even greater than the tragic Sani bus accident last year, which sparked a lot of discussions in the media from various stakeholders, particularly the policy makers, authorities and experts. Newspapers started to carry investigative pieces on how the bus drivers were pressured into taking drugs to meet their ends’ meet, such as the confession of a bus driver article from The Sun’s Terence Fernandez. Other mainstream media quoted on commitments by our bureaucrats and authority figures to not let such heart-wrenching accident to happen again, ever.
KUALA LUMPUR, April 14 (Bernama) — The Road Safety Department (JKJR) is studying the effectiveness of barriers especially the aspect of height as part of its efforts to reduce accidents involving express buses, said its director-general Datuk Suret Singh.
“The issue of the road barrier was an important aspect in the express bus tragedy yesterday as it did not effectively play its role to prevent the bus involved from overturning,” he told Bernama.
He said this in commenting on the tragedy that happened at dawn at Km443 of the North-South Highway near Rawang which left six people dead and three others injured.
He said the primary role of the barriers was to prevent vehicles from careening off into traffic coming in the opposite direction or into ravines.
“In yesterday’s case involving a double-decker express bus belonging to AB Ekspres, the steel plates used in the barrier were torn off and penetrated the body of the bus. This calls for a review of the suitability of using double- decker express buses or the height of the barriers as the case may be,” he said.
KUALA LUMPUR: Random weekly spot checks will be conducted on express bus companies, which are now required to comply with the Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) code of practice.
“Under the code, bus express companies must adhere to four sections — driver management, vehicle management, journey and risk management. Otherwise, they risk being slapped with a compound or having their licence suspended or revoked.
PETALING JAYA: They are underpaid, undertrained and overworked. And they lie at the bottom of the pile as far as commercial vehicle drivers are concerned.
While lorry and truck drivers can earn between RM4,000 and RM5,000 a month, non-unionised bus drivers get as little as RM500 in basic salary.
To make ends meet, they have to work overtime, drive more trips and in so doing, forgo their sleep.
This, many say, is the real reason why shocking express bus accidents still occur with horrifying regularity.
Checks with trade organisations and unions revealed that bus drivers are among the lowest paid drivers of commercial vehicles.
The lower salary tends to compel drivers to work longer than they should, and some take drugs to stay awake.
The following is the story from the Star newspaper:
SEREMBAN: Twelve people were killed when a north-bound express bus crashed through the guardrail and ploughed into five vehicles heading in the opposition direction at KM223.2 of the North South Expressway near Simpang Ampat here.
Forty-five others were also injured in the 7.45pm accident, which occured near the Negri Sembilan-Malacca border here yesterday.
Witnesses said the express bus crashed into the rear of a car before the driver lost control of his vehicle and rammed through the guardrail and onto the path of an oncoming bus, two cars and a motorcycle.
The impact caused the express bus to flip onto its side. The bus driver and motorcyclist were among the casualties. The oncoming bus belonged to the Welfare Department.Grim scene: Rescue personnel looking for trapped victims in the wreckage near the Simpang Ampat toll plaza at the Negri Sembilan-Malacca border Sunday.
Apparently, out of the 45 injured, four have been rushed to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital for treatment, 22 were sent to a hospital in Seremban and 12 to another hospital in Malacca.
The express bus had left Malacca about 45 minutes before the accident and was on its way to Kuala Lumpur.
The accident caused a traffic jam stretching for more than 25km along the expressway.
Of the 12 who died, eight were believed to be passengers from the express bus.
One of them was decapitated.
Two others were from a MyVi, which was crushed by the bus, and another from a Honda Accord.
PLUS officials had to divert motorists at the Pedas/Linggi toll plaza as the south bound lanes were impassable to traffic.
A Plus traffic control centre spokesman said the accident occurred at about 6km from the Simpang Ampat toll near Alor Gajah, Malacca.
“The middle and left lanes for the south-bound traffic were blocked by the vehicles involved in the accident while the right lane for the north-bound traffic was closed to facilitate emergency works at the scene,” he added.
Sources said that the department’s bus was carrying delegates for a gathering of former servicemen, which was attended by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil earlier in the day.
“None of them in this bus was injured,” said Malaysia Ex-Servicemen’s Association Datuk Muhammad Abdul Ghani.
Another piece on Transport Minister’s feedback. Is the bus fit to be on the road in the first place, with passengers left without the seat belt options, with highway guardrail barriers unable to withstand crashes?
TAMPIN: The express bus involved in Sunday’s accident which killed 12 people was in good condition, preliminary investigations have revealed.
The three-year-old bus had also undergone Puspakom checks in May and was due for the next round of inspection at the end of November.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said the 52-year-old driver as well as the bus had also not been issued with any summonses previously.
“My officers have conducted preliminary checks on the bus and it seems to be in fairly good condition. The bus is quite new, even the tyres were good,” he told reporters after visiting the accident scene Monday.