Malacca bus firms in a bind

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 12 Jun 2008

MALACCA: The state’s bus service network will be partially paralysed in two weeks in the aftermath of the new diesel subsidy restructuring and reduction scheme.

Malacca Bus Operators Association president Razali Endun said some fuel stations want bus operators to pay the full price first and the subsidy rebate given at the end of the month.

Razali said many bus operators, who were already operating on very narrow profit margins, simply did not have the cash flow to pay for unsubsidised diesel at the pump.

Bus operators, he added, are forced to fork out RM2.58 a litre instead of the subsidised price of RM1.43 a litre for each refill.

Though the quota of subsidised diesel had been increased, the implementation of the system was already having an unintended negative impact, he told a press conference at the association’s office in Melaka Sentral yesterday.

He estimated that within two weeks, some operators would stop running the buses unless something was done about the implementation of the new diesel subsidy scheme for bus operators.

Adding to their woes are price hikes in parts and accessories and insurance that were not subsidised or controlled by the Government, he said.

“If the problem is not properly addressed, many bus operators will go bust in no time,” he said.

He urged the Government to come up with a master plan to restructure the entire public transport system in the country to make it more efficient and cost-effective.

“We have been calling for this for many years but nothing was done except ad hoc measures which do not solve the problem in the long term,” he lamented.

He also suggested that politicians stay out of the transport business to avoid cronyism that resulted in inefficiencies in the public transport system.

However, it is business as usual for lorry operators in Bukit Mertajam despite the increase in transport charges.

Lorry Transport Services Association (Northern Region) Malaysia president Lee Far Li said customers have been quite understanding about the new rates, which was increased by about 35% since last week following the hike in fuel prices.

Bukit Mertajam is a popular transport hub for general cargo lorries.

Meanwhile, in Kuala Lumpur, Deputy Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said 65 bus company operators have had their permits yanked for overcharging and other permit-related offences since June 6 last year.

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