Graft putting unsafe vehicles on the road, says Puspakom man

Puspakom CEO Shukor Ismail (standing) checking footage of mobile vehicle inspection at the company’s central monitoring centre in Shah Alam

PETALING JAYA: A Puspakom officer has alleged that corruption is rife among officers in the mobile service of the vehicle inspection monopoly.

The source told FMT mobile inspectors would take bribes of between RM200 and RM1,000 to give the all-clear for vehicles that are not roadworthy. He said the amount would depend on the complexity of the problem with the vehicle or whether it would be necessary to use another vehicle as a dummy.

Referring to the dummy vehicles, he said these were used for testing after handheld cameras had recorded the chassis and registration numbers of the vehicles that were supposed to undergo inspection.

He also said CCTVs used during mobile inspections often malfunctioned and the lens were sometimes rubbed with dirt to blur the recording.

“Sometimes portable cameras are used, but these are not aimed properly or are used selectively,” he claimed.

Puspakom CEO Shukor Ismail pointing to live footage of a mobile inspection

Because of the corruption, he said, “even the worst-kept” commercial and private vehicles had been approved as roadworthy.

He said the best way to deal with the issue would be to carry out an audit of the mobile service and have the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission conduct frequent checks.

Puspakom CEO Shukor Ismail rejected the allegation, saying the company had been improving its inspection methods over the years to minimise human intervention.

He told FMT camera shots from every step of an outdoor check were channelled to the central monitoring system at the company’s headquarters in Shah Alam before any vehicle was passed as roadworthy.

“People at the headquarters do not know who the mobile service will be checking on next,” he said.

He also said Puspakom officers were subject to spot checks by the Road Transport Department (JPJ).

He added that the only complaints he had received from vehicle owners had to do with delays in mobile inspection and he explained this was due to long queues in some rural areas.

A Puspakom officer showing how the undercarriage of a vehicle is checked during an inspection. A camera is attached to the contraption holding the mirror.

He claimed that corruption in Puspakom was “almost impossible” because the company was continually updating the technology used in the inspection of vehicles to ensure integrity.

However, he urged officers to blow the whistle if they encounter corrupt practices.

A former president of Transparency International Malaysia, Akhbar Satar, recently proposed to the government to consider reverting to the practice of having JPJ inspect vehicles for roadworthiness.

Puspakom’s concession agreement with the transport ministry expires in 2024.

Akhbar spoke of weaknesses in enforcement and of complaints about integrity issues.

Puspakom inspects about 3.5 million vehicles a year. Buses and lorries are required to undergo mandatory checks every two years and taxis have to undergo yearly checks.

Private cars are required to pass the inspection before ownership is transferred.