Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bukit Gantang crash aftermath: Unhappy cabinet orders immediate action, study

The Malaysian Bar

©New Straits Times (Used by permission)
by Hamidah Atan and Ranjeetha Pakiam

PUTRAJAYA: The accident on the North-South Expressway near Bukit Gantang on Monday, which claimed 20 lives and injured nine, was the hot topic of yesterday’s cabinet meeting.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi expressed his concern and said that the government was unhappy such an accident occurred.

The Transport Ministry has been entrusted with the task of holding discussions with agencies involved in the public transport sector so that remedial actions could be taken immediately.

The cabinet also directed the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB) to conduct a thorough study.

The directive issued to the Entrepreneur and Co-operative Development Ministry was to improve the public transport system, said its minister, Datuk Seri Mohd Khaled Nordin.

The study will look into introducing a basic salary for bus drivers.

Khaled refused to go into the details, saying that he would present a working paper to the cabinet once it was ready. He admitted that the public transport sector was facing a host of problems.

"There are bus companies that cannot afford to pay drivers higher salaries. Some find it difficult to get drivers. CVLB has to look into all these and come up with the proposals."

Khaled also said the board would facilitate investigations into the accident being carried out by the Transport Ministry and relevant agencies.

Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said safety rails along highways and roads would be upgraded to withstand the impact of a crash. He ordered the Public Works Department to start installing double guardrails along dangerous stretches on highways and roads.

"The existing guardrails can be easily destroyed when heavy vehicles crash into them.

"The double guardrails will be able to withstand the impact of a crash," he said after launching his ministry’s Merdeka Day celebrations yesterday.

Samy Vellu said he had also ordered the Malaysian Highway Authority to ensure that the rails were made of steel.

He said the cost of the exercise would be borne by the highway concessionaires for the highways, state governments for state roads and the PWD for federal roads.

No comments: