Already two companies, one near here and another in east coast Sandakan have declared that they will cease operations as they can no longer survive the high cost of transportation in a crowded and chaotic public transport market.
Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) information Chief Chong Pit Fah said the subsidy was necessary given that the majority of Sabahans are still poor and could not even afford a motorcycle, let alone a car.
He argued that if the federal government could afford to subsidise commuters in Peninsular Malaysia amounting to RM287 million for the four expressways namely the North-South Expressway, Sprint Expressway, Sungai Besi Expressway and Pantai Baru Expressway, it should not have a problem subsidising the public transportation in Sabah.
"The Barisan Nasional-led federal government must not deny nor forget the fact that a bulk of the money which it used to subsidise the toll companies were contributed by the revenues generated from oil and gas from Sabah," he said.
Chong was commenting on the recent announcement by a major bus company, Penampang Union Transport Company (PUTC), that it would cease operations as it could not compete with the large number of minibuses that have been licensed to ferry commuters.
The company also said that it could not afford to change its existing fleet of buses that are more than 10-years-old with new ones, as required by the transport authorities.
Besides PUTC, another bus company in Sandakan in the east coast of Sabah, is facing the same fate.
Chong said the demise of PUTC would inevitably have a far-reaching impact on the general public especially those who have no choice but to depend on public transportation.
The option remaining for commuters now is to use minibuses, basically vans that are limited to certain fixed routes. However majority of these minibuses flout regulations on fixed routes and safety endangering commuters.
"I doubt the passengers can claim insurance if an accident occurs beyond Penampang area during the ride (on minibuses)," Chong said.
'Struggling to stay afloat'
He said the enforcing authorities should act against minibus operators who violated their respective permit.
Chong also noted that many areas within Penampang district, especially those situated a little bit further from the bustling township of Donggongon, are not being served by public transportation.
He said many had to walk for some distance to get to public transport adding that many residential estates are currently not covered by minibus services.
Chong also urged the government to subsidise diesel and spare parts for public transport operators like the stage bus companies, so that they could afford to continue to serve the public, especially those from the low-income bracket.
A direct benefit of such a move, he said, would ensure bus fares were kept affordable.
Two other large bus companies – Leun Tung Tat Company (LTTC) which is servicing Kota Kinabalu area and the Tuaran Union Transport Company (TUTCO) plying between Kota Kinabalu and Tuaran – are also currently struggling to stay afloat.Read More @ Source
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