MIRI: The Federation of Sarawak Lorry Association is appealing to the government to provide assistance to solve the serious shortage of lorry drivers in the state.
Its president Ling Kah Kiong said many Sarawakian lorry drivers are now working in Peninsular Malaysia due to the steady demand for their services there.
“The lorry drivers in Peninsular Malaysia have jobs no matter the weather but in Sarawak, once it rains, the roads would be destroyed and slippery – thus not allowing any work to be done.
“There are still many areas especially in the interior that are not covered by telephone lines which result in us being hard to contact (when lorry services are needed).
“So it’s a very tough job as a lorry driver in Sarawak, and that is why most of our drivers are looking for a better job and pay in Peninsular Malaysia. That is why in Sarawak we are facing very high shortage of lorry drivers,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday.
He added the government needs to come up with a system that can enable more people to acquire a lorry-driving licence, in view that many lorry drivers are computer-illiterate.
“Many lorry drivers in Sarawak are illiterate – they don’t know how to read or write. Even more don’t know how to use a computer, so how can they go to sit for exam and test to get their driving licence especially as we are now using computerised system?”
Ling said the federation is hoping Sarawak would come up with its own system using oral-based assessments, to help those interested to acquire their lorry-driving licence.
“The drivers who get their licence through oral examinations could perhaps be restricted to only work in Sarawak, and such licence cannot be used in Peninsular Malaysia. This will perhaps help solve the shortage of lorry drivers in the state,” he added.
Ling had recently led the federation to pay a courtesy call on state Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin at the Sarawak United People’s Party Senadin branch office here.
The courtesy call aimed to provide an overview of the current situation and problems faced by lorry drivers in Sarawak, including on lorry gross weight, Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board permits and parking lots.
Lee said he would arrange for a meeting involving relevant departments and agencies like the Road Transport Department, Puspakom and Public Works Department to look into the matters highlighted by the federation.
He said with Sarawak setting up a Public Transport Committee soon, he would seek to get representatives from stakeholders in the transportation industry, such as lorry, bus and taxi associations, to be made members of the committee.
“They (committee) will be looking into matters and problems faced by our transporters and those dealing with logistics here in Sarawak. Our state public transport committee will be formed soon as it has already been approved by our state cabinet,” Lee added.