‘Have drivers vaccinated before schools reopen’

IPOH: Schoolbus and van drivers should be vaccinated before schools reopen in September, says an association.

Ipoh Indian Schoolbus Association chairman G. Ramadass said as most of their passengers are schoolchildren, drivers should be given Covid-19 vaccines as soon as possible.

“As of now, only about 30% of our members have been vaccinated. I hope all will receive their jabs soon,” he said after receiving food aid from Gopeng MCA vice-chairman Cally Ting here yesterday.

On July 17, the Education Ministry announced that schools would be reopened in stages for face-to-face classes starting Sept 1, depending on the latest risk assessment by the Health Ministry and National Security Council.

Ramadass also appealed to the government to extend their licences for another five years.

“Since the pandemic started, we have wasted more than a year as schools were ordered to close and reopen,” he said.

He added that many of the 50 drivers in the association were left without any income since schools were ordered to close again earlier this year.

“As an association, it breaks my heart to see our members going without income for months,” he said.

Schoolbus driver M. Prakash, 43, said he hoped the government would provide them with some funds to service and maintain their vehicles.

“Our vehicles will need to pass Puspakom inspection before we can start ferrying schoolchildren.

“Since schools were closed, our vehicles have not moved for months and we will need to do some checks and maintenance work, which can be costly,” he said.

Prakash, who has been ferrying schoolchildren for five years, said he had to supplement his income by becoming an e-hailing driver.

“I used to be able to earn up to RM3,000 a month,” he added.

Meanwhile, MCA’s Ting said those who needed food aid, especially in Ipoh, Batu Gajah, Gopeng and Kampar, could contact her for help.

“Those who are badly affected, especially from the tourism industry and public transportation drivers, can approach me and we will try our best to help out,” she added.

Ting can be reached at 016-560 5125.

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