PETALING JAYA: There are about 23 million “active” vehicles in the country compared to the 33 million registered vehicles compiled since the British colonial era.
In a document sighted by FMT, the Road Transport Department (JPJ) stated that there were 11.37 million inactive or dormant vehicles out of the 33.08 million registered vehicles nationwide.
“JPJ estimated that there were 21,709,492 million active vehicles in the country up to September last year,” said a transport ministry senior official, who asked not to be named.
Since 2019, JPJ records showed that the number of newly registered vehicles increased by one million every year.
The source said since there was no end-of-life vehicle policy, “It has been a complicated process for JPJ to identify inactive vehicles and issue obsolete ‘death’ certificates unless it is declared by the vehicle owner, which is a rarity”.
“JPJ also had to apply a general formula of 10% reduction annually for inactive or depleted number of vehicles,” the source said. “The rule of thumb nowadays is that if a vehicle’s road tax is not renewed after three years, it is considered inactive.”
It is understood that the absence of clear guidelines to determine the length of time for a registered vehicle to be considered idle or inoperative, and a simple process to deregister a vehicle is causing JPJ and local councils a headache.
To date, it is also unclear whether JPJ would declassify as obsolete a vehicle deemed as ‘total loss” in a road crash.
A retired JPJ director-general, who acknowledged that there had been a surge in the number of inactive vehicles nationwide, suggested that the government conduct a comprehensive study.
“There are many vehicle owners who have died. There should be a survey with a big sample,” he said.
Mohamad Dalib, a former director of the automotive engineering division of JPJ, has defended the department for the seemingly confusing data collation of vehicles.
“It is unfair to point fingers at JPJ. We had been working hard to compile the data over the years,” said Mohamad, who started his career with JPJ in 1982.
“People don’t realise that the effort to centralise the database registry of vehicles started in 1990 after years of isolation and stand-alone machinery by each state since the inception of the Registrar and Inspector of Motor Vehicles 75 years ago.
“We must not forget that heavy machinery and vehicles used in construction, agriculture, plantation, airports and other areas, which are not present on the public roads on a daily basis, are also required to register with the JPJ. So, it is hardly a surprise that there are 33 million registered vehicles in the country.”
The practice of using the big number of registered vehicles by the transport ministry has baffled road engineering, urban and transport planners as well as analysts in the road safety circle.
In an interview with a local daily last month, the minister, Wee Ka Siong, said there were 33 million registered vehicles and it did not match up to the number of new road projects which led to congestion.
“Our cities are growing rapidly but the number of roads is not increasing as much, leading to more traffic. It is worsened further with our limited public transport system, as some projects are still in the construction phase,” he was reported as saying.