PETALING JAYA: A transport expert has called for greater transparency over the upkeep of the Automated Awareness Safety System (Awas) cameras, operated by the Road Transport Department (JPJ), after a news report claimed that only four cameras are working.
Despite the JPJ refuting the report, Goh Bok Yen, who has 30 years of consulting experience in urban-rural transportation, said the episode highlighted the lack of public knowledge on the Awas system.
“The public needs to know how reliable these equipment are and whether they are actually working,” Goh told FMT.
“Who checks on this? And how do we trust their accuracy?
“Police radar operations (to check on speeding motorists) follow international standard operating procedures and have qualified personnel to operate the equipment. What about these Awas cameras?”
Awas is an integration of the Automated Enforcement System (AES) and the Demerit Points System (Kejara).
Traffic offenders are imposed demerit points and also issued summonses to be paid within 60 days. Offenders have to pay a fine of RM300 and no discounts are offered at present, unlike previously.
The decision was made in advance of JPJ taking over the AES operations from Sept 1 last year after the government decided not to renew the contract of the two concessionaires, Beta Tegap Sdn Bhd and ATES Sdn Bhd.
Goh said although the public has “grudgingly” come to accept the new compound fine, there should be greater clarity about the Awas system.
He also said there are questions as to whether Awas should come under the purview of the traffic police and the police mobile radar speed enforcement team instead of the transport ministry.
He said the police will be able to properly operate the cameras as they are well trained, adding that their radar and equipment are constantly being calibrated by qualified personnel.
A news report on Wednesday quoted JPJ sources as saying Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook was being kept in the dark that 41 of the 45 Awas cameras nationwide are out of order.
The sources claimed that only four are in working condition. They also said Loke was not told about this for fear that he will reprimand the officers.
The report said that one of the working cameras is at Km17 Jalan Gua Musang-Kuala Krai and other three along the East Coast Highway.
It claimed a speed camera at Ayer Keroh in Malacca, which was hit by a lorry eight months ago, is still inoperable. It said another 115 cameras remained unused in storage in Subang Jaya.
However, JPJ denied this in a statement, saying 41 cameras are in good and functioning condition and they had the necessary expertise to operate them.
Goh, however, noted that the statement did not say how JPJ officers were trained to maintain the cameras.
“I have always felt that the traffic police should evaluate and handle Awas. They should coordinate with its mobile radar speed enforcement team,” he said.
“The traffic police enforcement system is more structured and disciplined. The current Awas system is obviously not effective. So, I don’t understand why we are just accepting it,” he said.
FMT has reached out to JPJ director-general Shaharuddin Khalid for comments and is awaiting his reply.