Last month I posted Too little, too late, for 22!, commenting on a malaysiakini news article that told us the tragic deaths of 21 passengers on a bus when the driver fell asleep on the wheel and allowed the vehicle to hit a road barrier while on a downhill road. It skidded off the highway, overturned and fell into a ditch.
As if that was not bad enough, we found out that the driver of a bus, 28 year old Rohizan Abu Bakar, had two outstanding arrest warrants for reckless driving, apart from 13 summonses from police.
Yet he continued to drive ... his passengers to their deaths, or shall I put it more correctly, that because the responsible party or parties failed to stop him from driving which it/they should, he was thus allowed to kill those poor passengers.
So I wasn’t surprised when Kurnia Insurans chief executive office Kong Shu Yin said new conditions would apply to (only) express buses because of their very poor safety record lately.
The insurance company has decided to make bus firms partly liable for passenger deaths or injuries, and property damage if their drivers fail to comply with an additional set of conditions such as:
> Full compliance with permit provisions,
> Having Puspakom roadworthiness certificates,
> That drivers are not drug addicts and alcoholics,
> That drivers have valid licences and are free of traffic warrants
> That drivers are physically and mentally fit.
I cannot for the life of me see anything wrong with the conditions which should be rightfully and lawfully subscribed to all the time, for the safety of the passengers, other vehicles as well as pedestrians.
The bus companies must accept responsibility. Having an insurance policy doesn’t mean that they can simply ignore any of the above conditions.
The primary reason should be the safety of the passengers, and if it takes an insurance company to put the stick end to their butt to motivate those bus companies to accept responsibilities, I say bravo.
In the USA, while the FAA regulates flying, the insurance companies are the real force which actually drive air safety. If the airlines or smaller charter air companies or any of their pilots are negligent or not following correct safety procedures, the insurance would be after them in more than one way – increased premiums, refusal to pay out on claims, refusal to extend insurance, etc. And the system works for air safety.
So I say kudos to the insurance company, which insures the bulk of express buses on the road, to require (threaten) bus companies to pay up to RM5,000 for death or injuries, and RM10,000 for property damage claims if those conditions are not fulfilled.
I expect the moans and groans from the bus companies, but was I shocked when I read the bus companies have two sympathetic groaners and moaners as well in the CVLB and Road Safety Department, when these two government organizations should be making sure the bus companies observe those prudent safety conditions (even without the insurance company driving them).
Guess what CVLB chairman Markiman Kobiran said?
The move was unfair because it imposed unnecessary conditions on bus companies. Hey, what about the passengers?
He said enforcement had weeded out most of the unscrupulous drivers and bus companies were very aware that they had to improve safety conditions.
Then Road Safety Department director-general Suret Singh said the move would cause hardship to the bus companies. What about the passengers, Singh?
Singh said “It should not be the stick alone. The carrot and stick method should be used. They should be working with the Government and industry to reduce their risk.”
Bull to you too – the carrot obviously didn’t work, Now’s the time to wield the stick before more passengers are murdered.
The CVLB and Road Safety Department are equally responsible for the pathetic state of affairs as evident by the number of express bus accidents. Departmental heads should have rolled with the abysmal safety record of the bus companies, but alas, in BolehLand they are instead allowed to pontificate on useless motherhood statements with no likelihood for bus safety improvements.
Oooh, incidentally, both Markiman Kobiran and Suret Singh are ‘Datuks’.