Bus operators seek govt’s help

KULAI: Frustrated bus operators and drivers in Johor are facing the threat of having their vehicles repossessed by finance companies due to difficulties in servicing their loans during the pandemic.

Johor Muafakat Bus Operators and Drivers’ Association chairman R. Thiagarajan said they still had to service their loans of up to thousands of ringgit each month as they did not benefit from the loan moratorium introduced by the Federal Government in March.

“Smaller bus operators and drivers like us mostly turned to finance companies for credit to purchase our vehicles because government policies made it difficult for us to obtain loans from commercial banks.

“Finance companies were not included in the loan moratorium scheme. We are worried that they will repossess our buses any day now. We are finding it very difficult to continue servicing our loans, ” he said on.

Finance companies offered loans at about 10% to 15% in interest compared to commercial banks’ average of 4%, he added.

He said the situation was taxing on bus operators whose livelihoods were affected by a slump in tourism and school closures.

Thiagarajan said the association members’ vehicles, including school buses, factory buses, tour buses and chartered buses, were left sitting idle at home and bus depots, leaving them with no income to maintain the vehicles or renew their insurance.

“Previously, factory bus operators could make about RM7,000 to RM8,000 per bus monthly while tour bus operators could rake in RM20,000 to RM30,000 per bus monthly.

“The amount was only enough to cover operational costs, maintenance, vehicle insurance and other expenses.

“Buses that used to ferry workers to and from Singapore are highly affected too. Many vehicles had been repossessed by finance companies due to the default payments.

“We want the government to intervene to help alleviate our burden or at least listen to our grouses and find a solution, ” he said.

Thiagarajan said they will submit a letter to the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry and Housing and Local Government Ministry to ask for help as the finance companies were under their purview.

He also said about 100 bus drivers from Johor were ready to join bus associations from other states who faced similar problems to hold a peaceful protest in Putrajaya next Monday to make their voices heard.

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