Transportation Woes: Neglected with a cost to the nation


Recently the Government sharply raised the retail price of petrol and diesel,  due the current market level of crude oil in excess of USD 130 per barrel, which many felt will create the spiral affect on inflation of the country. As a result of that, Bank Negara revised its 3.5% inflationary rate, which is considered high and already taxing to the rakyat, to a whopping excess of 6%. This is the highest rate in over 26 years and the last time it when above 6% was in 1982.

Now that retail fuel prices are up between 41 and 63%, naturally the inflation will set in almost everything. Electricity tariff is expected to go up by 24% this month and prices of basic food are already all time high at the markets.

The trade unions, on behalf of the employees are screaming for a minimum wage, to supposedly help alleviate the increasingly heavy burden of the working class rakyat. The Government is being very resistant to this as it will make Malaysian produced goods lesser competitive, in an already stiff market against immediate neighbours and China.

One expect in the average working class life which needed attention, especially for the urbanites is the cost of transportation. It is a major factor after rental, food and utilities. Since the increase in petrol and diesel prices, many started to opt for public transportation.

The cost of public transportation seemed to go higher not proportionate to the increase in cost of diesel. Transport companies operators, bus and logistic truckers alike vehemently insist that their cost is rising exorbitantly, and despite some enjoy the benefit of ‘fleet card’ and buying diesel at discounted prices.

The current practices of transporters can actually categorize the cost of transportation into three portions; cost of ownership vehicle (instalment/leasing), cost operations and maintenance and most importantly, cost of owning the permit.

Many bus/truck operators don’t actually own permits and permit holders don’t have buses/trucks. Thus the operators, the people who actively run the business, suffer in between. This is because they are bound by the limitation of authorities regulating the fares (especially for intracity busses and intercity coaches), where else the sales derived from operations do not commensurate the actually cost into the operations itself. The leakage went into the bus/truck owners and permit holders. As such, operators cut corners by reducing maintenance, slave driving the drivers and vehicle operators. Furthermore, the ‘fleet card’ diesel discounts are only enjoyed by bus owners or long term lessee. Thus, many gory road accidents are caused by poor maintenance and reckless operations, which glaringly endangering the public lives, is on the increase each day.

Thus, the practice of issuing permits to non bus operators / owners should be seriously checked and stopped. Then fare that Government agreed to be charged can be channeled directly for the bus  / transport operations and make the public get their money’s worth. This is also applicable to taxi and limousine operators.

At the present moment, productivity of the working class rakyat is affecting the economy due to the resources spent on time and expenditure in transportation alone. With the increased efficiency in public transportation, then the cost of  living of the rakyat could be curbed to a much better level. This also means that lesser traffic jams and road and highway maintenance for the concessionaires can also be reduced. The productivity generated by the more efficient of public transportation is something that the nation badly needed, to maintain its competitiveness in these trying times.

For the record, when the Government raised the retail price of petrol by 30 sen to RM 1.92 in May 2006, they promised that the RM 4 billion subsidy meant for fuel be injected back into the system by improvements of the public transportation system.

Published in: on July 11, 2008 at 02:11  Comments (5)