KUALA LUMPUR: A full-scale road safety campaign comprising all the relevant road and traffic authorities is under way to ensure that the number of accidents and fatalities during the Hari Raya holidays are kept to a minimum.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi ordered the police, Road Transport Department (JPJ), the Public Works Department (JKR) and even PLUS, the operator of the North-South Expressway, to take whatever measures necessary to reduce the figures.
“We can do something up to a point but please co-operate with the authorities and ensure that this festive period is greeted with joy and happiness instead of sorrow,” Abdullah said after chairing a meeting with heads and representatives of the agencies at the traffic police headquarters in Jalan Tun H.S. Lee here yesterday.
The Prime Minister said the number of accidents during the Hari Raya festive period had increased steadily since 2000.
He said there were 12,239 accidents during that period last year compared with 10,277 in 2000.
“The number of road fatalities last year was 285 compared with 220 in 2000,” he said, adding he was saddened by deaths.
Abdullah, who is Home Minister, said an extra 2,000 policemen backed by five helicopters would be on duty during the two-week period spanning Hari Raya.
He said they would increase patrols to deter would-be law-breakers.
He said JKR had been told to ensure that roads were in good condition and signboards were erected to notify motorists of road hazards.
“The signboards should be placed at a distance so that road users will have sufficient time to take precautionary measures,” he said.
PLUS, he said, had also agreed to set up more booths to ease congestion at toll complexes.
Abdullah said the JPJ had to ensure buses carrying passengers home were in good condition and roadworthy.
“Severe action should be taken against those who compromise on roadworthiness of buses, and their licences should be revoked,” he said.
Abdullah said that certain types of heavy vehicles, like timber lorries, would be prohibited from roads for a number of days to ensure smooth traffic.
He said the heavy vehicles were slow and cumbersome and affected traffic flow.
“They (heavy-vehicle owners) might argue that they, too, pay road tax, but I appeal to them for understanding,” he said, adding that JPJ was drawing up a list of vehicles to be barred from highways during the festive period.