MOST road users pay no mind to what is actually being transported by the lorry or van alongside them.
This is hardly surprising as not many people realise that daily, a substantial load of dangerous goods cargo (DG cargo) are ferried to and from industrial sites and factories as part of their daily business.
Dato’ Dr Mohamed Noor Sany, Chief Executive Officer of E-Response Alert – a risk management consultancy company that specializes in the risk exposure linked to DG cargo and chemical transport – says: “In a road transport incident where there is loss of product containment, the consequence can be devastating with potential loss of lives and damage to the environment.
.“Some materials are so corrosive and toxic that even a small spill can have disastrous consequences to human lives, imagine if an entire load is spilt on the road.
“Another concern in the haulage of DG is security as opposed to safety because in the wrong hands, it can be used as a chemical weapon for nefarious purposes.
“It is therefore imperative that we advocate proper management and control of the transportation of DG cargo for both the safety of the driver and the public, and national security at large, ” he adds.
To respond to this silent threat to public safety, E-Response Alert has developed the e-Roads system – a database platform to enable the management and control of the road transport operation for DG cargo.
“A database is of utmost importance to know which vehicle and driver is hauling such hazardous materials, ” says Dr Sany.
“We need to establish tight proactive controls as a preventive measure in the interest of public safety to avoid any untoward incidents. When it comes to DG cargo, we cannot afford hindsight, particularly when threat to human lives and damage to the environment is concerned.”
In the face of such dire consequences, slip-ups – no matter how minor – is best mitigated with proper management of controls starting from the source itself: the driver and vehicle.
The e-Roads database registers driver and vehicle details in assuring that they are fit for purpose. The system captures and records these drivers and vehicles within the industry irrespective of their movement from one company to another.
A registered driver within the system would be issued with an electronic Driver Safety Passport (e-DSP) to enable easy verification on driver credentials and qualification to carry DG cargo.
Likewise, every vehicle carrying DG cargo is also issued an electronic Vehicle Safety Passport (e-VSP) to similarly indicate it is fit for purpose.
Currently, there are more than 2,000 drivers and vehicles registered in this database and fully operationalized with a number of SMEs servicing many multinationals.
As this database contains the details and credentials of chemical drivers, it has vast potential to be integrated and linked to various government agency database, such as JPJ and PDRM. This synergy between industry and authorities would further enhance the safety and sustainability of transportation of chemicals on Malaysian roads. Talks are currently in progress, facilitated by the Malaysian Productivity Corporation (MPC) to work towards this potential link up.
There is vast potential indeed for the e-Roads system across various government agencies and industries.
The ASEAN framework agreement in allowing the facilitation of cross border transport delivery, in our view, opens up challenges in ensuring fit for purpose drivers and vehicles into and through Malaysia. There is opportunity for the e-Roads infrastructure to be configured to manage this concern. Therefore, sharing of this database would widen its reach to encompass tracking of foreign tankers and drivers within our country for enhanced safety.
It is also possible to link a vehicle’s GPS system to individual driver database in e-Roads to track and monitor each driver’s performance and establish a performance ranking system, The system allows individual companies to establish a ranking system for their drivers based on the safety record within their own set of parameters.
An app called e-Checks, has been developed linked directly to e-Roads to allow fast and convenient checking on a company’s fleet of drivers and vehicles status.
The e-Roads system provides a relatively low-cost solution to keep Malaysian roads safe regardless of the cargo carried as the emphasis is on safe drivers and vehicles.
“The e-Roads system is about saving lives and is a best-in-class practice. This homegrown system has been tried and tested for five years and proven to be effective. We created this for the good of all Malaysians and the public, ” says Dr Sany.