Extending schoolbus lifespan: Focus on safety, not economics


  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 23 Dec 2009

lester@thestar.com.my

PETALING JAYA: The National Collaborative Parent-Teacher Association of Malaysia wants the Government to review the extension of the use-by date for schoolbuses from 20 to 30 years, citing safety concerns.

Its president Prof Datuk Mohamad Ali Hasan said any extension should only be for up to five years.

“Safety should be the prime consideration, not economic returns. Any bus in service for more than 20 years should be replaced,” he said on Wednesday in reaction to the extension announced by the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board (CVLB).

CVLB chairman Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique had announced that the extension would take effect on Jan 1 next year as a result of appeals by schoolbus operators.

Mohamad Ali said the Government should consider the wear and tear of the vehicles, their impact on the environment and the poor driving habits of some schoolbus drivers.

“Parents would not be assured of the safety of their children riding in buses more than 20 years old. The safety of the children and the public must be considered,” he urged.

He said the association will write to Halimah to press for a review of the extension.

Malaysia Road Safety Department (JKJR) director-general Datuk Suret Singh said his department and the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) would be recommending guidelines for more vigilant checks on schoolbuses to the Road Transport Department (RTD).

“We will follow up and recommend to the RTD that it performs more stringent checks on the tires and brakes of schoolbuses even after the vehicles are okayed by Puspakom (the vehicle inspection agency),” he said.

He said he would leave the details to be worked out by the RTD as it was the enforcement agency, adding that the checks would be enforced under the Safety, Health and Environment Code of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

He said the proposal for safety checks on schoolbuses will receive input from Miros, the Department of Occupational Safety and Health, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, and the RTD.

Suret also urged schoolbus operators not to cut corners and takea dvantage of loopholes in the vetting system of their vehicles.

“They should not do things like using new tires for Puspakom checks and then replace them with worn treads. These vehicles are only as safe as their tires and brakes,” he warned.

He added that schoolbus operators and their drivers must practise self-regulation and give priority to safety by not just being satisfied with the bare minimum safety standards.

Related Stories: Age limit of school buses extended to 30

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