MIRI: The government has plans to help school bus operators to remain relevant, despite the industry facing a tough future and steep competition.
In stating this, Senator Alan Ling said the dependence on school bus services showed that the industry contributed a lot to the country’s growth and development.
“Even though it is not like other profit-making transport industry, we cannot ignore how families with both working parents rely heavily on school bus service to transport their children to school and return home safely.
“However, things are changing fast, and seemingly it had become a tough industry for the operators. The cost inflation and the issue of unregulated or illegal operators are plaguing the industry and it may worsen if not resolved soon,” said Ling in his address at the Miri Division School Bus Operators Association’s 26th anniversary dinner held last Saturday at a restaurant here.
Ling assured that one of the plans was fuel price control which had been done by the PH government since it took over the federal administration in May last year.
“Next would be the implementation of a better regulatory and licensing framework throughout the state to make the industry more business-friendly.”
Currently, he said the school bus licence is regulated by Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board (LPKP) Sarawak, a federal government agency. The board was previously under the Prime Minister’s Department but is now under the Ministry of Transport since May this year.
“Thus, more positive changes by LPKP that would be beneficial to the school bus industry would be much anticipated and that includes the dialogue and discussion with the industry players,” he said.
Meanwhile, on the illegal school bus issue, Ling said stern action would be rolled out and imposed against offenders as was done in Peninsular Malaysia.
“It is unfair for law-abiding and tax-paying small operators to ‘compete’ with the illegal operators. Moreover, the safety of our children should be the priority,” said Ling, adding that he would raise the issue of illegal school bus operators in the Senate and make sure that the federal government make new a policy against the offenders.
Meanwhile, Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin, who was one of the guests of honour at the dinner, expressed concern for the wellbeing of students from poor families.
“I have received appeals from students whose parents who are too poor to afford them transportation services to school.
“The problem may arise from parents’ delay in payment to their respective school bus operators and other reasons, but I am sure that if their case is genuine, then they deserve help from the government and relevant agency,” said Lee.
Also attending the dinner were Miri MP Dr Michael Teo, Pujut assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon, Lee Thin Hin representing Piasau assemblyman Datuk Ting Chiew Yew, the association’s chairman Nelson Chee Kim Foo and councillor Kuek Chie Tiong.