Shocking findings in the Genting bus crash report
In unprecedented findings by the independent advisory panel probing into the causes of Genting bus crash, it has exposed the incompetency and violations across the board that were already considered as open secrets among the public transport and road safety advocates for quite a while.
The 44-page report highlights the systematic failure by the government agencies for not assuming full responsibility and exercising the jurisdiction and power accorded to them, details that have been speculated by the public all this while.
It was further cemented in strong words by the panel as per item 3.5 of the report entitled 'Lackadaisical Attitude on Road Safety':
“The Panel is deeply concerned with the findings that senior management of several government agencies and private organisations reflected lackadaisical attitude and poor commitments on road safety, despite the fact that they are in a position to influence or make decisions to implement appropriate measures in their normal duties.”
The report released yesterday which was prepared by the six-man panel headed by Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, also highlights the lack of enforcement and communication to safe operation practice for public service vehicle including weaknesses in standard operating procedure by authorities and relevant organisation.
There are so many findings outlined by the panel and to assist readers, CBT extracts someof the damning findings from the independent report to the Transport Ministry which may provide the idea on the level of disarray among the government agencies and relevant organisations, thus directly and indirectly contributed to the nation’s worst road fatalities in a single crash.
Lackadaisical Attitude on Road Safety
a) Both Road Transport Department (RTD) and Puspakom Sdn Bhd had poor safe keeping of documents and records. The important documents and records related to the crashed bus could not be produced by RTD as it was claimed that the documents were destroyed by white ants. There was no further countermeasure to retrieve the entire content or partially;
b) Puspakom only keep their detail inspection records from 2010 onwards. It was claimed that there are no means to trace the earlier inspection details, including the technical contents of any earlier approval;
c) Puspakom demonstrated its lackadaisical attitude in performing vehicle inspections where unrealistic data was recorded throughout the years for the crashed bus. Puspakom did not take any appropriate action to identify and improve such shortcomings. The panel believes this is also not an isolated case;
d) Genting Malaysia Berhad failed to take adequate proactive actions to rectify road safety issues and to further enhance the safety of their road;
e) The Panel noted that Department of Occupational, Safety and Health (DOSH) was not assuming full responsibility in managing occupational road safety and health, and instead attempting to delegate its power to other authorities;
f) There was no initiative taken by any relevant authority to gazette the posted speed limit for the purpose of enforcing over-speeding along the Genting road;
g) The absence of the director-general of Public Works Department (JKR) for the interview session without any notice is not acceptable by the Panel. The director-general had further demonstrated his low priority and seriousness towards road safety by assigning one of the senior principal assistant directors to represent JKR, and he could not provide any clarification on important issues sought by the panel.
Lack of the Implementation of Occupational Safety and Health in Genting Highlands Transport Sdn Bhd (GHT)
a) The operating company had very poor documentation and no substantial evidence to support that the company and the bus service were operating with satisfactory effort to ensure safe service and operation in driver management, vehicle replacement and maintenance, and journey and risk management;
b) GHT never conduct drug and alcohol test for their drivers.
Road Status and Road Design
a) The Genting road was approved without any detailed design submitted and has never been audited by any relevant authority;
b) At present, there is no policy that requires submission of the road design with road safety audit to the relevant authorities, including the local council, for a private road with public access;
c) The safe speed of the curve at the crash site was calculated to be 30 km/h which is much lower than the posted speed limit of 50 km/h and the design speed of the road of 60 km/h.
Vehicle Approval and Inspection
a) The current vehicle plan approval only requires general vehicle drawings which contain very little information for inspection purposes. Bus approved plans indicates minimum dimensions and not the actual dimensions of the bus. In so doing, there is a possibility that buses are subject to unauthorized modifications without being noticed;
b) Periodic verification and validation check of coach builders are poorly implemented and monitored by the authority
c) There is no official guideline to determine the standing capacity on stage buses.
Standard Operating Procedure and Vehicle Technical Requirements
a) Some of the existing guidelines are verbal, not documented, and subject to changes by individual engineers;
b) Under these circumstances, industry players like vehicle manufacturers, vehicle body builders, design engineers, Puspakom engineers and RTD engineers do not have a common technical reference for vehicle requirements thus giving rise to confusion and misinterpretation.
Non-compliance of Provisions
a) There are strong evidences to show that certain officers of the RTD’s Automotive Engineering Division do not comply with the Weight Restriction Order by approving Maximum Permissible Laden Weight (BDM) of a certain category of vehicles far beyond the gazetted BDM.
Front Row Safety Seatbelts of the Crashed Bus were not installed
a) The vehicle plan for the crashed bus was approved by RTD on 14 August 2008 without safety seatbelts for front row seats;
b) The Transport Ministry, through the letter to the RTD director-general dated 12 April 2004, decided that all front row seats must be installed with safety seatbelts;
c) Four lives could have been saved from this Genting crash if the above had been complied with.
Licensing of Public Service Vehicle
a) Approval of operation license without considering any specific requirement for certain road environment by Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) may compromise safety;
b) For example, double-deck buses (tour buses/express buses) are allowed to operate along hilly and winding roads;
c) Standing capacity is allowed for all stage buses without considering road environment under the present operation permit approval procedure by SPAD.
Lack of Communications among Different Agencies
a) Vehicle blacklisting system is not synchronized between Royal Malaysia Police and RTD. In this case, the blacklist status of the crashed bus which was from police, appeared on RTD website but not in the RTD system;
b) Specifications of SPAD requirements for permit are not well communicated to relevant authority and permit holder.
The panel has also recommended that National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to be established within two years to be accorded with technical competency and power.
An interim body before the formal creation of NTSB is also suggested to ensure effective implementation of the recommendations submitted by the panel in the Genting bus tragedy report.