Ministry will not meddle in Prasarana leadership, says Loke

KUALA LUMPUR: The Transport Ministry is only concerned with operational matters pertaining to public transport and has no intention of meddling with the senior leadership of Prasarana Malaysia Bhd, says the Transport Minister.

Responding to a question on whether the leadership of Prasarana needs to be changed in the wake of various service disruptions lately, especially the five-day shutdown of 16 stations from Nov 9-13, Anthony Loke said he had worked with the same senior officers when he was previously transport minister from May 2018 to February 2020.

“This is the same team that helped me roll out the MY100 (unlimited travel pass) scheme years ago,” he told reporters yesterday after visiting Prasarana’s headquarters for the first time since assuming his ministerial role on Dec 3.

Loke acknowledged that the agency under Minister of Finance Inc (MOF Inc) had seen many top leadership changes of late.

When Pakatan Harapan won the 14th General Election in 2018, it put in former Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim as chairman to replace former inspector-general of police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.

Following the collapse of the Pakatan government in February 2020, Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman was brought in as chairman in May 2020, before he was replaced by former Axiata head Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim in July 2021.

Muhammad Nizam Alias was appointed CEO in July 2020, a position that had been vacant for more than six months after Datuk Mohamed Hazlan Mohamed Hussain resigned in January 2020.

But Muhammad Nizam himself left in February 2021 under tumultuous circumstances.

Mohd Azharuddin Mat Sah was later appointed CEO on the same day that Jamaludin took on the chairman’s role.

On the focus of his visit yesterday, Loke said he was given a briefing on Prasarana’s plans for the 24-year-old Kelana Jaya LRT line, Malaysia’s busiest metro route that carries an average of 200,000 passengers on a weekday.

At its pre-pandemic peak, the line moved nearly 330,000 passengers a day, making it a critical link in the Klang Valley’s public transport network.

On the fate of the Kelana Jaya line, he said commuters should expect some occasional disruptions until the third quarter of next year as Prasarana works to rehabilitate its aged rolling stock and signalling system, while awaiting the arrival of more new trains next year to boost the fleet, which now has 56 train sets.

He said that 18 train sets are undergoing maintenance on a rotational basis, with work ongoing to inspect or replace tachometers (a critical safety-related component) as well as wheel profiling and brake caliper replacements.

On the shutdown from Nov 9-13 due to signalling system instability, Loke said a full report by an independent consultant, WSP Global, will be presented to Cabinet in a few weeks.

“I have also asked Prasarana for the report to be made available to the public,” he said, adding that everything is being done to ensure that the service frequency will go back to three minutes between each train, versus the current five minutes.

Montreal-based WSP Global was appointed last month to look into the major disruption.

It was also hired earlier by Prasarana to conduct a study on the reliability, availability, maintainability and safety of the network following the head-on collision between two LRT trains on the line – one of them driven manually – on May 24, 2021.

“To get service intervals down to three minutes, we need at least 48 train sets,” said Loke.

In 2017, Prasarana put in an order for 19 new trains in a RM1.72bil procurement exercise, with eight sets delivered so far, while the rest will be delivered in stages starting August 2023 to December 2024.

In October 2022, the Prasarana board approved a RM150mil exercise under the phase 1 upgrading of the Kelana Jaya signalling system so that the line could be more reliable, given its age.

Loke said that he had also ordered the Land Division under his ministry to expand the scope of the audit committee to cover all public transport-related facilities in the Klang Valley.

“Public transport is more than just Prasarana. We need to cover various agencies, local authorities, operators such as KTM Bhd, other lines such as MRT, walkways, escalators and so on.

“The public transport ecosystem is not just rail services, but everything that supports the system – including toilets.”

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