Fierce competition may have driven lorry operators to bribe JPJ staff, says source

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 25 Apr 2019

GEORGE TOWN: A shortage of drivers and high demand for transportation services have led lorry operators to overload their vehicles.

A former lorry operator, who wished to remain anonymous, said operators would usually overload their cargo to try to save up on their transport costs and the number of trips they had to make.

He said due to these reasons, fierce competition would arise between lorry operators, and this may have driven them to bribe Penang Road Transport Department (JPJ) officers.

“Lorry operators have to compete against each other in the midst of driver shortage and when the demand for transport is high.

“Operators who have shortage of drivers will resort to overloading, especially when they’re trying to meet cargo demands,” he said yesterday.

He said lorry operators had been suffering from a 30% shortage of drivers for some time, and this, coupled with the declining economy, could have aggravated the tight competition between them.

“I believe this issue is not only rampant in Penang, but in other states as well because there will always be some hardcore operators who tend to overload their lorries,” he said, adding that the investigation into the protection racket involving lorry drivers, which led to the wave of arrests of JPJ officers, was just “the tip of the iceberg”.

He said not all lorry operators resort to bribery.

“There are operators who do follow the law,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Com­mission (MACC) has picked up 79 people – 68 JPJ officers and personnel, two former Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) officers and nine civilians – since April 16 to assist in the probe codenamed Ops Sarat.

Yesterday, two former SPAD officers and a JPJ enforcement officer were the latest to be remanded in connection with the case.

The three men were among the 21 people picked up by MACC on Tuesday.

Sources alleged that the officers had been taking bribes since 2016 and the money collected could have amounted to more than RM80,000.

The enforcement officers are believed to have received monthly payments of between RM10,000 and RM32,000.

The payments were an inducement to not take action against lorry drivers who committed road offences.

It was also for tip-offs, which the companies and drivers received to alert them about JPJ operations.

The source also said more people would be called up.

The case is being investigated under Section 17(a) of the MACC Act 2009.

On April 17, the George Town magistrate’s court ordered 30 suspects, including 24 JPJ officers, to be remanded for seven days.

On Sunday, another five JPJ officers were remanded for seven days.

Officers from Kedah and Perak were seconded to Penang JPJ headquarters after the arrests.

However, enforcement operations were not affected.

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