Malaysia Bagus News
Malaysia Bagus News
PETALING JAYA: Just before Hari Raya in 2017, 13 express bus drivers tested positive for drugs. The following year, there were 10, one of them a woman. Just a few days ago, a lorry driver who brought down a pedestrian bridge in an accident which left two dead and three severely injured was also found to be on drugs.
Does that show bus and lorry drivers to be frequent drug users? No, says a bus drivers group and a former president of a hauliers association.
Association of Malaysian Hauliers immediate past president Nazari Akhbar said drugs were a problem in the community but were not just prevalent in the lorry business.
He also said low wages were not an issue as drivers could “easily” earn around RM3,000 a month, while those who worked harder could earn up to RM8,000.
“We don’t deny that there are some drivers who get involved with drugs, but based on my experience in the industry, the percentage is very small. For those who get into drugs, it’s not due to work pressure but their own attitude
“Also, since they contribute to the Social Security Organisation (Socso), they are already protected. Some companies even provide insurance schemes for their drivers.
“The haulage industry handles 24 million shipping containers a year. If the industry is plagued with drug problems, I don’t think we can deliver so much around the nation,” he told reporters.
Parti Sosialis Malaysia central committee member Sharan Raj had urged Putrajaya to improve salaries and social protection for such heavy vehicle drivers, saying many resorted to methamphetamine, an “upper” drug, to work longer and earn more.
He was speaking after the crash which killed two people at the Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Elevated Expressway (SUKE) site last week. The trailer driver who caused the incident later tested positive for methamphetamine.
No rise in bus fares since 2009
Pan-Malaysian Bus Operators Association president Mohamad Ashfar Ali said there should be no issue of bus drivers resorting to drugs to put in extra hours as there were fixed schedules for them.
He told reporters they were not allowed to work more than eight hours a day, adding that they could stretch their hours to 10 a day but with a two-hour break in between.
“As far as stage and express buses are concerned, the fares are fixed by the government. But the last fare increase we had was in 2009, which is a long time ago.
“Other countries usually review their fares every two years to keep up with inflation. But somehow that hasn’t happened in Malaysia and we’ve been operating under very difficult conditions.
“If we don’t increase the fares, how will we pay higher wages? Cost of operations has gone up, terminals keep increasing their fares and there are fewer passengers now too,” he lamented.
He said appeals to the government to allow flexibility in fares have fallen on deaf ears, with no response from the transport ministry other than, “we will look into the matter”.
Previously, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government had also said it was considering increasing fares for express buses, although its administration fell before anything could be implemented.
Ashfar said the question now was how drivers were able to pass their annual medical check-ups when renewing their public service vehicles (PSV) licence if they were really hooked on drugs.
Nazari said the problem the hauliers industry was facing was a shortage of drivers, forcing some drivers to work overtime in order to meet the demand for transporters.
He urged Putrajaya to set up a training centre to coach new drivers, similar to a vocational training institute, so the industry’s need for drivers can be met.
He also admitted that there were some companies who did not pay their drivers the right wages, thus forcing them to work overtime often to earn more money. However, he maintained that this practice was not so rampant.
“The authorities need to take action against these kinds of companies. Overall, in the industry, the majority of us pay our drivers well.”
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