Year after year we have Ops Sikap, now changed to Ops Selamat, to stop the carnage from our road crashes during our festive seasons. Malaysia was ranked 20th globally for the most road deaths in 2011, according to the World Health Organization. Eighteen people are killed daily in road crashes and according to the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS), the figure is expected to rise to 29 by 2020.
According to the traffic police chief, Mohd Fuad Abdul Latiff, the previous Ops Sikap didn’t work because the police advised the public to drive slowly, don’t jump queue and be patient. Ops Selamat, however, is about total enforcement. He cautioned that enough warnings have been given and on-the-spot action would be taken against errant motorists. Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP), welcomes the strict enforcement and hopes to see a positive reduction in road crashes this Hari Raya.
However, traffic law enforcement should not be seasonal. Strict enforcement must be an on-going, not a seasonal ritual to coincide with festivals.
CAP is deeply saddened by the recent spate of bus crashes and that the Malaysian authorities are unable to stop the killing on our roads. The authorities are plainly inept and irresponsible in their “inability” to stop our road carnage.
About 19 people are killed in the 1,267 road crashes that happen in Malaysia daily. If this does not warrant drastic emergency and comprehensive measures, we don't know what else will shake up our authorities from their complacency. We need measures that will work to stop the road killings now. If road deaths are given the same media and public scrutiny as flight MH370, we are sure the authorities will be awakened and forced to act. The loss of lives from road crashes is equivalent to a loss of flight MH370 every 12 days.
The number of road deaths in Malaysia is steadily climbing, despite the government spending millions and creating multiple agencies to tackle the issue. According to police statistics, the number of road deaths has increased from 6,286 in 2003 to 6,877 in 2012 while the accidents went up from 298,653 to 462,423. We have got our thinking, data systems, organizational infrastructure, policies and programs all wrong and unless we set them right we will continue to see increasing tragedies on our roads.
The disappearance and crash of MH-370 is a very sad incident which has been very much in the news recently. Our hearts go out to the families of the people travelling on the flight and we feel deeply sorry and concerned about the extraordinary ordeal of emotional ups and downs to which they have been subjected.
CAP calls on the government to review and tighten procedures relating to the safe operation of cranes, in view of the increasing number of crane accidents. In the recent crane accident in Georgetown, Penang, two workers on the skylift mounted on a crane were injured and one motorcyclist was killed. This incident raises a number of questions related to work safety and road safety. An immediate enquiry should be carried out.