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No end in sight to transport woes

 | September 30, 2011

Malaysia's burgeoning traffic congestion problem unlikely to be resolved anytime soon as public transport masterplan is put on hold.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians will have to live with traffic congestion for some time yet, as the public transport masterplan has been put on hold.

The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) confirmed that the plan was still being looked at by government agencies.

“The masterplan is currently being shared with government agencies for feedback. This process has to be completed before it is made public,” a SPAD spokesman told FMT.

The spokesman added that the plan would still need to go through Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s eyes before it was released to the public.

He also said that the plan, which was originally slated for a September 2011 release, was not given any new deadline.

The public transport masterplan has been touted as a series of guidelines aimed at solving Malaysia’s burgeoning congestion problem.

It was first announced in June last year, a few weeks after SPAD was set up as a commission, replacing the Commercial Vehicular Licensing Board (CVLB) in West Malaysia.

Malaysia has never adopted a national policy addressing public transport. This masterplan, would have been the first.

FMT previously reported that the masterplan was to take a backseat to the My Rapid Transit (MRT), as the latter was part of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

Little else is known about the masterplan’s actual details, with politicians, transport operators and NGOs being left out of the loop.

Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association (PMBOA) president Mohamad Ashfar Ali said that neither he, nor any of his colleagues were consulted on the plan.

He added that aside from the PMBOA handing over two memorandums to SPAD in February and May this year, the commission did not consult them in the drafting of the plan.

“We assume that since we briefed them on what our problems were… that was it. We’ve heard nothing in these few months (since the memorandums were given),” Ashfar said.

He also worried that SPAD would release the plan as a final version, and not listen to any objections.

“(Before), the CVLB would decide policies on their own… give it out via circulars and then tell us to take it or leave it,” Ashfar said.

Misplaced priorities

He said that the government should at least give bus operators, as well as the public, enough time to go through the plan before it was set in stone.

PKR-Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar slammed SPAD for not involving the public in the drafting of the plan.

She said that commission had misplaced priorities, with its approval of the billion-ringgit MRT project even though the plan was not released.

“A masterplan is such a crucial part of any country… (so that) you don’t end up creating projects not in line with the plan.”

“This is especially with our horrible track record with approvals being given to operators (managing) different LRT (Light Rail Transit) systems,” she said.

Nurul also asked why the government was taking so long to come up with the plan, adding that numerous transit briefings with national transport company Prasarana and Pemandu (Performance Management & Delivery Unit) labs have been conducted in the past 12 months.

“Public money is being used to fund SPAD. They need to be more transparent in updating the public, it’s the least they could do,” she added.

Association for the Improvement of Mass Transit (TRANSIT) spokesperson Rajiv Rishyakaran said that the government needed to announce a new deadline, instead of keeping it to themselves.

“Since there has been a delay, they should come clean with a new deadline. Don’t just give excuses. They missed the first boat with this… what’s the new deadline?”

He also wondered why SPAD had not informed the public about the plan’s delay.

“They should have talked about this, not just wait until the last day. It’s a shame that no press statement has been issued,” Rajiv added.


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