The RapidKL bus that was involved in last Thursday’s incident in Kuala Lumpur. PIC BY LUQMAN HAKIM ZUBIR

THE rampaging RapidKL bus incident on Aug 16 is just the latest. We have seen it all before. Mad maniacs at wheels, weaving in and out of highways and byways like they are chasing fat commissions, caring the least for the safety of their passengers and fellow road users. We have witnessed such scenes play out for a very long time, too. The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) was supposed to put an end to it, but it was not to be.

If the government is really serious about ending this problem and saving the lives of passengers and other motorists, it needs to do a number of things. First and foremost, the bus companies must be made accountable.

Bus companies that have a bad track record of employing drug addicts, serial traffic offenders and other errant drivers must have their licences suspended. If they do not mend their ways, they must be put out of business. There is no place for irresponsible busineses in this day and age.

Errant companies must be fined, and so must their directors.

Responsibility must begin at home. If the owners or shareholders and directors of public transport companies were to inspect their vehicles, they can see for themselves the state of disrepair the buses are in. And the in hospitable condition of the bus stations, especially long-haul bus stations. Very often, the owners or chief executive officers of bus companies that have been found to have employed negligent drivers or ill-maintained vehicles have not come forth to take responsibility to clean up their act. This they must henceforth do. Nothing less must be entertained. Time and again, the problem turns out to be a human one.

Drivers are either drug addicts or serial traffic offenders. Or overworked and sleep-deprived men behind machines. The story is the same with badly maintained machines. No regular maintenance because they were not turned in for scheduled checks. The supervisor who was in charge did not see to it that the vehicles were turned in. At the end of the day, it is a human error. The company, which is really a mere legal entity, cannot be blamed. The ones who must be held accountable are the people who man it: the shareholders, directors, managers and all other men and women who operate the machines.

SPAD has been formed and reformed, but the failings of the public transport system continue. Is it up to the task?

Perhaps, some who man it are but as an organisation SPAD seems to reflect the general failings of the system.

Rampaging drivers, overturned buses, taxis and coaches parked at traffic lights at the Petronas Twin Towers are a sign of this failed system. The Council of Eminent Persons may have a role here. As Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said the CEP’s work is not done yet. We agree. Perhaps, the CEP can take it upon itself to bring about a systematic revamp of the public transport system.

Transport companies have held the public at ransom for too long. It is time we put an end to it.

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