First their hands were tied. Now SPAD’s hands are off?

TRANSIT took note of this interesting set of comments from SPAD Chair Syed Hamid Albar, indicating that the Land Public Transport Commission no longer had any role in the MRT project since the railway scheme had been approved by the Minister of Transport.

Aside from this being total hokum, since SPAD does have a responsibility for the regulation of the project, oversight of the construction & ensuring that operations are carried out safely!

And in light of the crash between a train and tanker in Kota Kinabalu on 31 October 2011) (caused by the tanker crossing the railway allowance illegally at an unsafe crossing – an action that occurred because of gross negligence & recklessness), it is clear that SPAD needs to play an important role in maintaining and ensuring railway safety.

Of course SPAD doesn’t have a role in Sabah, since that is the responsibility of the Sabah State Railways, but there are certainly enough problems in Peninsular Malaysia for SPAD’s railways division to deal with.

What disappoints TRANSIT is that SPAD seems to be swinging like a pendulum. One moment they are talking tough about new policies and making sure that permit owners and public transport operators follow the rules. The next moment, they are talking about how their hands are tied and they cannot take ‘extreme’ action.

This “hands off” approach suggests that SPAD is not acting in the public interest because it is not supporting the interests of the public – meaning that its independence and authority are in doubt – not just externally, but internally as well!

‘MRT not SPAD’s concern anymore’ (Free Malaysia Today)
Patrick Lee
November 1, 2011

Chinatown and negotiations over MRT land acquisitions are not SPAD’s problem, but MRT Corp’s, says Syed Hamid Albar.

KUALA LUMPUR: Chinatown and the My Rapid Transit (MRT) are not the Land Public Transport Commission’s (SPAD) problem anymore, its chief said.

SPAD chairman Syed Hamid Albar said that people unhappy with the MRT affecting Jalan Sultan lots needed to take it up with the project’s owners, MRT Corp.

“Whatever discussion (there is) on Jalan Sultan, we’ve completed our job. We’ve taken in the public’s views, now you’ll have to deal with MRT Corp.

“If there is any requirement for change, you come back to us,” he told reporters at Klang Bus Stand last night.

Syed Hamid added that SPAD was merely a regulator, and could only “facilitate” when it came to the MRT.

Dozens of lot owners in Jalan Sultan and Bukit Bintang were unhappy that their buildings were going to be taken through land acquisition in mid-August for the construction of underground MRT tunnels.

Unhappy at being notified about the matter at the very last minute, the lot owners took their grouses to politicians, and warned the government not to grab their land by force.

Syed Hamid also said that demolition works on the Klang Bus Stand were expected to start in December and end by early 2012.

After this, construction work on the Pasar Seni MRT station would begin.

In the mean time, buses servicing Klang and Banting (including RapidKL U91) would be shifted to Pudu Sentral.

All other RapidKL buses will continue to operate from Jalan Sultan Mohamed, right next to the Stand. It is estimated that more than 5,000 passengers will be affected by the move.

Syed Hamid also did not think that these passengers would be greatly inconvenienced.

“It’s only 700 metres, it’s not that far,” he said, referring to the distance between Pudu Sentral and the Pasar Seni LRT (Light Rail Transit) station.

He added that passengers dropped at Pudu Sentral could take the Ampang Line LRT line at the Plaza Rakyat station, and change routes later if they wanted to get on the Kelana Jaya line.

TRANSIT Says:

Sigh.

What more can we say?

We are totally disappointed in the ‘hands off’ approach by any government department. The fact that this is SPAD, supposedly gung-ho and independent, there’s not much that we can say except sigh and give our heads a shake.

There is a huge gap in our public transport policy at the local level. The closest thing we had to any government paying attention to public transport at the local level was SPAD’s attempt to get involved in the Greater KL Masterplan.

But it is clear that complicated things like local urban planning are no longer the interest of SPAD. Better to facilitate infrastructure projects, doing very little to produce any data to justify the (unknown) cost of the investment, then sitting back and folding your hands and saying “it’s someone else’s concern now.”

No, SPAD. The MRT is your problem. It was your problem when the unsolicited proposal was conceived. It was your problem when the Cabinet approved the MRT project in principal in February 2010, after receiving a 30-slide powerpoint presentation that would be appropriate for a Form 5 student. It was your problem when you made “facilitating” the MRT project your priority, as opposed to the more important job of changing policy and making improvements to local public transport.

And while the debate about the MRT continues, the project will continue to be your concern. When (if) construction ever starts, the MRT will be your concern. And if the MRT ever gets operating, the safe operations will be your concern as well.

Don’t forget SPAD – you’re here to make public transport in Malaysia work better. You work for the public, not the government or those parties who think they are in control.

For your own sake, change your attitude back to “gung ho” and “can do” now.

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3 thoughts on “First their hands were tied. Now SPAD’s hands are off?”

  1. Dear Sir,

    I refer to your posting entitled “First their hands were tied. Now SPAD’s hands are off?” dated 2 November 2011 and would like to thank you for your feedback.

    I would like to clarify my statement about Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) being the rightful party for the public to approach should they have any grouses with the MRT project. I believe my statement has been unfairly twisted to portray S.P.A.D. as washing its hands of the MRT project.

    I would like to state clearly that what I said is consistent with the roles which the Government has assigned to the various parties involved in the MRT project. S.P.A.D. is the supervising agency while the project owner of the MRT project is MRT Corp.

    Therefore, MRT Corp is the rightful party to be approached for issues and concerns in connection with the MRT project, including issues arising from the alignment. It is MRT Corp’s responsibility as project owner to take the necessary steps to resolve these issues. It is also the correct party to engage with the public, and to provide regular information and updates on the project.

    Having said that, while MRT Corp carries out construction and development work of the MRT project, S.P.A.D, as supvervising agency, will always be present to supervise the project. S.P.A.D, as a regulatory agency, will strictly monitor various areas under MRT Corporation’s responsibility in the development of the MRT project.

    As supervising agency, S.P.A.D. has a duty to ensure that public interest is look after S.P.A.D will ensure that the MRT project is developed and will be operated for the benefit of the people.

    TAN SRI SYED HAMID ALBAR
    Chairman
    Suruhanjayan Pengangkutan Awam Darat

    1. Syed Hamid Albar

      Thank you very much for your statement and it is certainly appreciated.

      You are correct to point out that SPAD is only the regulator and facilitator and is not responsible for all aspects of the MRT project according to the roles set out by the government.

      And it is correct that at this juncture, with the project and the alignment approved by the cabinet, MRT Co. has taken over the pressing responsibility for the project – again, according to the roles set out by the government.

      Never mind that there are still disagreements with the alignment, problems with land acquisition, questions about the planning justification for the various segments of the line, and confusion about the masterplan. Perhaps those will be resolved over time.

      Our point is that saying that the public must now go to MRT Co. and should not go to S.P.A.D. is sending the wrong impression. It reminds the public of the “bad old days” of dealing with their government, being sent from desk to desk, being told “this is not my job” or being treated as bothersome for asking questions or for wanting clarification.

      We are in a new world of government, with cooperation and encouragement and one-stop centres, where quick and reliable service is paramount.

      By saying that the public should not talk to S.P.A.D. (as if we are bothering you) and should talk to MRT Co. instead, the public gets the message that the old days are coming back.

      What we would prefer to hear from you as Chairman of S.P.A.D. is a statement that “while MRT Co. is now responsible, we at S.P.A.D. are still here. Talk to them or talk to us. We are all working together for a common goal.”

      The difference in the message above is that is says S.P.A.D. is still here for you, that the MRT project is in your best interests, and above all, we are listening and working hard to do this for you.

      The public is more interested in hearing that the government is caring and listening, than they are in hearing about organizational roles and job scopes.

      Hence, SPAD must be seen as a facilitator, not only for the government & public transport operators, but also for the public.

      Incidentally, how does one contact MRT Co? What is their address, phone & fax number? What about their website, social media connections, email addresses? Because if S.P.A.D. wants us to contact them, they should facilitate that process.

      Regards, Moaz Yusuf Ahmad

      for TRANSIT

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