Root cause and consequences... the Malaysian context

Saleh Mohammed | .

How many times have we read about accidents involving buses in the last few years? It saddens me when I read the news about the bus which rammed 10 other vehicles on the North-South Expressway after the Raya holidays. This is not the first time despite statements from the authorities to stop it from recurring.

According to the police, the bus driver had 9 outstanding traffic summonses issued over the last four years while the bus was issued with a total of 63 traffic summonses. The police also confirmed that the brakes on the vehicle were faulty.

As always, the focus will be on the bus driver. Remember MH370, one of the focus was on the pilot for a few days...

Well, it is always easy to point a finger at someone when something goes awry.

But, what is the root cause?

What were the deterrent actions taken towards the company that owns the bus with 63 traffic summonses? Why did the company employ a driver who had 9 outstanding summonses? Would the authority care to check the maintenance records for the ill-fated bus?

During every major festivals, we will come across such mishaps and what are the steps taken to reduce these incidences. Well, police will have various ‘operasi’ and a jolly good time issuing summonses.

I would suggest for the police to be more pro-active. Surely, by now they should know the various notorious danger spots/blackspots. Proper measures are to be instituted around these areas. Are they aware of the psychology or attitude of motorists before and/or after being stuck in a massive traffic jam?

On those dangerous stretches, what has Lembaga Lebuhraya Malaysia done to make it safer? Its KPI shows 100% achievement...

Summonses will increase the government’s coffer but I believe the costs of accidents are much higher than the income from the summonses if we consider the costs to the government and also the motorists.

The consequence to the motorists include repair and medical costs, opportunity time lost and loss of ‘no claim discount’ on their insurance premiums. This does not include loss of precious lives, God forbid.

There is a report that we need the the Automated Awareness Safety System (Awas) which is an integration of the AES and Kejara points demerit system. Better late than never to implement it but the question of enforcement may raise its ugly head.

The deputy Transport Minister said “Everybody must be responsible, from the authorities to bus companies. Safety must be a priority”.

I think the relevant authorities here should learn from Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri which transferred the responsibility of calculating income tax to the taxpayers. In this case, the bus companies are the major players and responsibilty should be heavily weighed on them. If need be, licences should be revoked. Again, the question of enforcement...

In our march to developed nation status, we should change our approach in handling traffic/accident cases. As they say, prevention is better than cure.

Assuming not much actions are taken towards bus companies, I give credit to the authorities for taking action against illegal cyber outlets. We read about raids on its premises and for that matter, many times including seizure of modified computers. But it will be back in business in a jiffy.

Again, what is the root cause that it can spring back to action in a jiffy?

Are they untouchable or politically well connected?

Let us now consider the amount of thoughts that were given to analyse a root cause.

Polystyrene will be banned in the Federal Territories with effect from Jan 1, 2017. The honourable minister’s reasoning is that it is harmful to the environment.

Last September, the New York Supreme Court overturned New York City's ban on plastic foam containers and packaging as there are evidence that recycling was a feasible option. Even the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have determined that polystyrene is safe for use in contact with food. However, the quality of our polystyrene for recycling is a concern.

The consequences... experts have put forward facts and figures to show that it is less harmful compared to paper boxes which contributes more to carbon emissions, energy used, weight of wastage and transport costs. Ultimately, it is the consumers that will bear these costs.

It seems we are banning one type of product and replacing it with another that does not solve the problem? We have seen many cases, decisions are always business driven without scientific support, environmental and cost considerations.

What Malaysia need now are smart decisions which take into consideration views from all stakeholders and are sustainable from the perspective of  time, costs and the environment.

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