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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pay bus drivers well to attract the best

I REFER to “Bus company penalised for the crash” (The Star, Jan 6).

The Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB) must be commended for coming down hard on Sani Express, the company linked to the bus crash that killed 10 passengers in Ipoh recently.

It has been given 30 days to upgrade its driver management system before renewal of its licence. This severe punitive action may be drastic but it is the only way to force bus operators to buck up, especially when it comes to safety.

It is time for express bus companies to be more serious in the management of their drivers, who are a major cause of fatal accidents, besides the condition of their vehicles.

It is clear that the driver of the ill-fated bus was too exhausted to drive in the first place, let alone handle a double-decker bus in the wee hours. The Transport Ministry has clear guidelines on road safety for express buses, including working hours and rest for drivers. Why were these not adhered to?

Every time a fatal accident occurs involving an express bus, we are quick to blame the driver for being negligent and reckless. There is no follow-up to determine whether they are really negligent and if so, the reasons for continuing to employ such drivers. What is being done to improve the quality of these drivers?

Low wages are reported to be the underlying cause of the poor quality of express bus drivers. Some of them are being paid a mere RM500 per month, which is hardly enough to sustain them let alone their families.

Under such constraints, they are forced to undertake long working hours that virtually drain them of their physical and mental energy when they report for work, especially for late night driving.

It is also not uncommon these days for workers, particularly from the lower income group, to resort to multiple jobs to boost their income. Relying on income from a single job will not be enough to make ends meet, considering the high cost of living, particularly in urban areas.

It is of utmost importance that these bus companies only take in drivers with calibre, who are committed to the job. Furthermore it is equally important to pay them well, provide proper training and motivation from time to time and ensure their welfare is looked into.

Unless they are provided such adequate incentives, there is no way to attract the best for the job. Higher wages and better perks would not only attract better and experienced drivers but would also reduce their need for multiple jobs or for long working hours. They will therefore be in a better mental and physical state when they report for duty.

The Government should keep the pressure on bus companies to ensure that safety measures are not compromised for monetary gains.

Better wages, perks, regulated working hours and training for them will go a long way to ensure a more committed and responsible fleet of drivers operating the express buses plying our roads and highways.

The job of an express bus driver is a very responsible one as the lives of many are in his hands. Unless we take it seriously and get only the best for the job, there is no way of preventing further tragedies like this.

The Ipoh tragedy offers another lesson for the bus operators and enforcement authorities to buck up. Whether they learn from it is yet to be seen.


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Harap dapat tinggalkan nama anda apabila membuat komen yer..Tak kisah la nama betul ke samaran....TQ

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