WHY CHILDREN SHOULD USE ONLY REGISTERED SCHOOL BUSES
The next time you send your children out on school buses, check if the vehicles are registered. Unregistered ones cannot provide insurance coverage and the drivers are mostly untrained to handle emergency situations, write
The next time you send your children out using unregistered school buses, remember you are placing their lives at risk.
Not only are your children not covered by insurance, the drivers may not have the proper training to prepare them in the event of an emergency.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said an estimated 1.5 million schoolchildren used registered school buses until November last year.
Malaysia has 5.07 million schoolchildren enrolled in 10,180 schools, based on statistics from the Education Ministry.
Nancy said school buses that were registered with the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) would be eligible for the School Children Insurance Coverage Scheme (SCICS).
“About RM14 million is invested to provide insurance coverage for 1.5 million schoolchildren aged between 7 and 19,” she told the
New Straits Times.
Nancy said SPAD introduced the SCICS to provide a safety net for students and their families in the event of accidents, including coverage during school-approved travels, such as excursions and extra-curricular activities.
She urged schools to advise parents on the importance of using registered school buses.
She said school bus operators registered with SPAD would also need to undergo the Industrial Code of Practice (ICOP) safety programme.
ICOP has five main elements — the management and monitoring of safety of employees and the public; driver management based on best practices; vehicle management to ensure vehicles in optimum condition for the road; road travel risk management; and, records management.
“We have trained more than 2,000 operators under ICOP.”
Until last December, she said, there were 16,861 registered school buses in the peninsula run by 10,496 operators.
The highest number of registered school buses is in Selangor (27 per cent), followed by Johor (23 per cent), Kuala Lumpur (9.5 per cent) and Perak (7.2 per cent).
On unregistered school buses, Nancy said the authorities had difficulty identifying them.
“When we conduct operations, those stopped will tell our officers that the students in their vehicles are their neighbours’ children and they are just giving them a lift. We don’t have the number, but we know they are around because there is demand for unregistered operators.”
On making it compulsory for school buses to be fitted with seat belts, she said the government was always looking to boost safety in public transport.
“While we want our children to buckle up in school buses, we want to do it gradually, especially in new vehicles, without disrupting the livelihood of the operators.”
Nancy said the ages of school buses plying Malaysian roads ranged between 15 and 25 years old, which represents 54 per cent of the buses; less than 15 years (29 per cent); and, over 25 years old (17 per cent).
“The buses are allowed to operate up to 30 years as long as they pass the Computerised Vehicle Inspection Centre (Puspakom) inspection. They have to get their vehicles checked twice a year.
“SPAD, however, strongly encourages operators to replace vehicles over 25-year-old.”
To encourage operators to replace aging buses, she said, SPAD
had introduced the School Bus Replacement Scheme from January 2013 to December 2014.
A total of RM185 million were disbursed to 213 applicants out of 233 under a soft loan scheme offered at a low repayment rate of two per cent.
“The Finance Ministry also allocated funds to provide RM10,000 rebates for the downpayment of new bus purchases and as subsidy for the repayment of the soft loan.”
However, Nancy said, the scheme had been discontinued due to low take-up.
She said the school bus industry was a small one.
She said school buses were mostly individually owned at more than 77 per cent due to minimal entry requirements.
“Eleven per cent are under private limited companies, five per cent under statutory bodies, 4.7 per cent under partnerships and the remainder (2.3 per cent) are under co-operatives, public listed companies and associations.”
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri says there is demand for unregistered school buses.