- Updated with comments from a PAC member!
The members of the Public Accounts Committee visited the bus ‘graveyard’ at Sg. Buaya on 9 February 2010 as announced earlier in the media.
Unfortunately, no one from TRANSIT was able to attend due to transport concerns and conflicts with work schedules.
We are following up with the media and public accounts committee so we have a fuller understanding of what happened with the buses.
The controversy over the decommissioned buses was mentioned on the TRANSIT website, and other sites back in 2008, in various newspaper articles and blogs, including that of former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir.
From this article on 29 May 2008
“These buses were already aging (10 to 15 years) from the point of acquisition, and as such were used as the temporary fleet for RapidKL pending the replacement of new buses,” the statement said.
It added that the replacement was accomplished in stages from mid-2005 and completed by the end of 2007.
The statement said the temporary fleet was decommissioned, as it was no longer economical to operate and maintain.
These included factors of decreasing engine efficiency, rate of wear and tear and the procurement of spare parts, it added.
The visit to the bus ‘graveyard’ was mentioned in various local media, including these two articles:
- PAC to discuss Prasarana’s purchase of used buses (The Star)
- RM93 mill purchase that ended in scrap heap (The Sun)
Both articles make the following clear:
- Prasarana spent RM93 million to buy over 1,294 used buses from two bus companies (DRB-Hicom and Park May Bhd.) in 2003;
- These buses were used for a temporary fleet operated by RapidKL between 2003 and 2006;
- Prasarana has received approximately RM6 million for the scrap;
- The Auditor General’s 2008 Report stated that Prasarana had incurred losses from 2005 to 2007, due to poor management. Accumulated losses as at Dec 31, 2007 was RM839.81 million;
- The report pointed out that 459 or 40.3% of the 1,139 buses destined for disposal could still be repaired.
But the following remains rather murky or very unclear:
- In a ‘professional evaluation’ conducted in 2005 it was noted that 1,139 of the buses were deemed unfit for operations and were ‘decommissioned’ in November 2005; [TRANSIT: According to a member of the PAC no such evaluation was conducted in 2005 although the decommissioning of the buses began in November 2005.]
- Another ‘professional evaluation’ of the buses in 2007 found that only 10 buses were in working order; [TRANSIT: According a member of the PAC the company conducting the evaluation was performed by Raine & Horne. The condition of the buses is really no surprise, after being out in the open for 2 years];
- The 2007 evaluation report estimated that on average, each bus was valued at about RM60,000 but it would cost RM200,000 to refurbish and repair it. [TRANSIT: We can only wonder what the cost would have been if the buses had been examined properly in 2005 and refurbished then];
- The “official de-commissioning” of the buses was to be in 2008 but the buses were sent to the ‘graveyard’ earlier; [TRANSIT: Why?]
- One ‘graveyard’ in Sungai Buaya, Rawang. The other ‘graveyard’ is in Serendah. [TRANSIT: we have been told that most of the buses stored at Serendah have been sold already]
Also interesting to note is:
When asked if an evaluation was done prior to buying the buses, Azmi said there was but “we don’t know the rationale” for the purchase.
Sources said a simple roadworthy test was conducted to determine the condition of the buses at the time of deciding whether to decommission them.
“The buses were considered working condition if it can be driven for 5km without breaking down,” said sources.
The saga of the bus ‘graveyards’ reflects very poorly on the previous management of Prasarana and casts a shadow over the current management as well as the government’s intentions for improving public transport.
We appreciate that the Public Accounts Committee is investigating the decommissioning of the buses. However, the investigation must focus on the tests conducted in 2003 when the buses were purchased, as well as the [alleged] ‘professional evaluation’ of the buses conducted in 2005, (rather than the one conducted in 2007).
It is crucial that the PAC investigate the quality of the road tests in 2003 because these tests led to the buses being purchased from the companies DRB-HICOM and Park May Bhd. The PAC must also investigate the ‘professional evaluation’ in 2005 because this is what led to the 1,139 buses being decommissioned and abandoned. It is because of that decommissioning that Prasarana had to buy hundreds of new buses.
Like the controversial KTM Komuter DMU purchase, the justification given for the scrapping of the old buses and the purchase of the new buses was that the old vehicles were in bad shape and replacements were needed very quickly.
The majority of these buses, purchased in 2005-2006 were built on bus chassis from highly productive Chinese companies like An Yuan, Dong Feng and King Long. Some of the buses were Completely Knocked Down (CKD) built by Malaysian bus builders like Gemilang and Scomi Bus (formerly MTrans) and some were purchased as Completely Built Up (CBU) buses.
The PAC has to investigate whether the cost of purchasing the buses in 2005 was greater or lower than the cost of refurbishing the old buses. They also have to investigate whether the benefits of the new buses (including the lower floor height) justified the costs of the purchase.
It would be a clear mistake to look at the 2007 evaluation for guidance. By 2007 these buses, which had been left outside for 2 years, would not be in proper working condition.
The perception of professionalism in Prasarana and the Finance Ministry will be affected if the investigation is allowed to rest or is not taken seriously. And we say nothing of the perceptions of corruption that have been associated with this topic.
With Prasarana looking to spend RM7 billion on the proposed LRT extensions as well as RM27 billion on the future Kota Damansara-Cheras line, it is the responsibility of the government, Prasarana, the Public Accounts Committee and we at TRANSIT to make sure that we are all confident in the way this money is being spent.
As always, your feedback is welcome. Please reply with your comments below.