Amendments to check reckless driving among MOT’s biggest successes

PUTRAJAYA – The gazetting of the Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2020 which came into effect on Oct 23 is one of the biggest achievements of the Ministry of Transport (MOT) during the Perikatan Nasional government’s year-long administration.

Its minister, Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said several fatal accidents due to drunk drivers triggered the push for the amendment of the bill, especially Sections 41 to 45 to impose stricter punishment for dangerous driving, or driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

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“We had consultations with a total of 345,021 people participating online, and 94 per cent agreed to amend Act 333.

“I then continued to ask my officers, within the first 100 days (of the PN administration) to present a memorandum to the cabinet to be brought to Parliament,” he said in an interview on MOT’s one year Malaysia Prihatin achievements recently.

Wee said despite pressure and opposition from certain quarters, who claimed that the new punishment was too heavy, the amendment has now been well received by the community.

Among others, it involves the amendment of Section 41 of the Road Transport Act 1987 (Act 333) which involves the offence of causing death by reckless or dangerous driving, punishable by imprisonment for five to 10 years with a fine of RM20,000 to RM50,000.

Wee said that among the other successes achieved by MOT over the past year were the signing of the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link project agreement, My30 Unlimited Travel Pass, the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) Project and financial assistance incentives for drivers through the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package (PRIHATIN).

“Transportation industry is a dynamic sector and we can’t delay or sit on an issue until 2021, and so we act fast and that is one of our big successes (MOT),” he explained.

RTS Link agreement

On the signing of the RTS Link agreement in July last year, Wee said it was a very important project for Johor residents who commute to work to Singapore as this will be able to reduce congestion at the Johor Causeway.

He said after overcoming several challenges, including time constraints following the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO), the agreement was finally inked with the project expected to be completed in 2026.

“I am impressed because it is a project that involves two countries and in terms of negotiations, it was finalised in a relatively short period of time,” Wee said.

The RTS Link, which includes the construction of a four-kilometre route linking Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru and Woodlands in Singapore, is expected to cost RM3.7 billion covering specifications agreed by Malaysia and Singapore.

In addition, Wee said MOT also focused on easing the burden of the people affected by COVID-19, among others through the introduction of the My30 pass which offers unlimited travel for 30 days for all Rapid rail and bus networks, and this has benefited almost a million public transport users.

Also, a total of 116,233 e-hailing, taxi and tour bus drivers received one-off assistance of RM500 and RM600 respectively through PRIHATIN.

“As for the Perlindungan Ekonomi dan Rakyat Malaysia (PERMAI) assistance package, a total of 110,000 drivers of taxis, rental cars, e-hailing services and tour buses received one-off assistance of RM500 involving an allocation of RM15 billion,” he said.

Other achievements include the establishment of the National Rail Center of Excellence which targets the country’s rail industry to become a strong and sustainable business sector by 2030, and the launch of three new Civil Aviation Directive (CAD) guidelines for Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) or high-risk flights effective March 1, Wee said.

ECRL now more efficient

Speaking in detail on the ECRL, Wee said it has been further enhanced by extending the original alignment of 640 kilometres (km) to 665 km as a more efficient rail alignment system.

He said the additional alignment will encompass the original 30 km which is 24 km from Jalan Kastam (Port Klang) to West Port and 6 km from Jalan Kastam to the North Port.

“This is the reason why we have to build a land bridge and optimise the usage of rail.

“The primary objective of constructing ECRL is as a cargo route which is 70 per cent cargo and 30 per cent for passenger. So we need to ensure there are returns,” he told an MOT Malaysia Prihatin Achievement interview recently.

An overall study was also carried out to improve ECRL logistic advantages especially involving issues of train congestion and safety currently faced by going through KL Sentral. At the same time, we are also offering better passenger service with connectivity to other public transport to Kuala Lumpur via Gombak Integrated Terminal.

Wee stressed that the success of ECRL is not only reverting to its original alignment but with improvement by passing through Serendah and linking Port Klang, with West and North Port.

“In terms of engineering cost, it only involved about RM50 billion compared to RM46.379 billion which did not include land acquisition which would take it to more than RM54 billion,” he said.

All technical problems faced by the mega project such as heritage sites, Orang Asli settlements and dams which have been amicably resolved.

The project which is expected to be ready in 2026, has reached 20.37 per cent completion in January 2021 compared to the original schedule of 19.39 per cent.

“The progress is due to Section B (Dungun-Mentakab) which was 9.47 per cent completed compared to 5.83 per cent as scheduled,” he said.