KUCHING: The government is urged to step in to help overcome the shortage of bus drivers in the country.
It is suggested that the government should now consider bus driving a profession for youths in the country, especially school dropouts.
“Train our school leavers free-of-charge and give opportunities for dropouts so that they can enter the employment market and earn a living,” said Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association president Datuk Mohamad Ashfar Ali.
He said Malaysia was facing a shortage of 5,000 bus drivers every year and in Sarawak alone the deficit was about 1,000 a year.
“The entire transport industry is facing a shortage of drivers due to several reasons including elderly drivers retiring, drivers leaving the industry for other jobs such as working at factories, selling things or working at night bazaars.
“Migration is also among the reasons as many of them move from Sarawak to Peninsular Malaysia or Brunei for better pay. Furthermore, new blood is not coming into the industry due to the high costs,” he told a news conference here yesterday.
Ashfar added it was not cheap to obtain driving licences needed to become bus drivers.
It costs between RM2,000 and RM2,500 to obtain a Class D licence while one has to spend RM1,500-RM2,000 for a Class E licence (for heavy motor car), and RM1,500 to RM2,000 for a Vocational (Public Service Vehicle (PSV) Bus) licence.
“Those without any of these driving licences will have to spend between RM5,000 and RM6,500 to get all the Class D, Class E and PSV Bus licences in order to become a bus driver.”
He said the entire process might take at least two years before drivers could even see their first pay cheque.
As such, he appealed to the government to create a course at polytechnics encompasing all the teaching and testing from Class D to PSV licences to condense the entire process.