TRANSIT is saddened to learn about the Kelana Jaya LRT Line incident that injured hundreds of commuters on the evening of May 24th. It is clear that Malaysians are very upset and calling for accountability. We wish to point out that behind every so-called accident is a chain of events and decisions. We want Malaysians to understand that there are fundamental problems within our public transport, and these need to be addressed in order to resolve issues concerning safety, service, and management that lead to problems such as the evening on May 24th.
Much has been said about the immediate issues facing Prasarana by our peers in the industry. However, we would like to highlight the concerns we have about the safety of the Malaysian travelling public, as well as the integrity of Prasarana as a public transport service operator.
The LRT incident is the first of its kind for an urban transportation service in Malaysia. We believe that the next steps taken by the Malaysian government and Prasarana are vital in instilling accountability and integrity, with the goal of restoring the public’s confidence in our public transport services. Hence, we call on the Ministry of Transport, APAD and Prasarana to commit to the following items:
Full, independent and transparent inquiry into the LRT accident
We note that a task force has been set up to investigate the causes of the accident and will present the results to the Ministry of Transport within two weeks (circa June 7th). However, we call on the Government to go further and establish an independent public inquiry.
This inquiry should be staffed by independent experts, and must look at the safety culture in Prasarana, the chain of events that led to the incident, as well as whether the compensation offered by Prasarana is commensurate to the impacts of the incident on victims. The inquiry should also have the power to subpoena witnesses, experts and Prasarana staff to provide evidence as part of its investigations. We expect reports from the inquiry to be made public, and should dwelve into specific actions that contributed to the incident, as well as the broader culture of safety within the railways.
It is in the government and Prasarana’s best interests to do so as a measure of accountability and gain public confidence after such an unfortunate incident of this scale.
Clear accountability and good governance
The problems at Prasarana, (operational, financial and leadership-related), are symptoms of long-standing governance issues that successive governments have chosen not to address. We fear that these issues have impacted the passenger-facing operations and services that Prasarana provides. As evidenced in the past year, small but cumulative cuts to operations and services have been made to services in the places Prasarana operates. These cuts, along with the recent service shutdowns in Kamunting, stand against the interests of the public. These cuts have made public transport less accessible and reliable, jeopardising the passenger experience.
We note that Prasarana leadership has changed several times over the past few years. While we applaud the MoF’s decision to terminate Dato’ Sri Tajuddin’s tenure as chairperson, safety, leadership and accountability issues within Prasarana are unlikely to be resolved unless there are major changes to how Prasarana is governed and how public transport is organized and managed in Malaysia. Strong, independent leadership is therefore crucial in remodelling Prasarana’s operations so that it can provide a cost-effective, accessible and safe public service.
TRANSIT has always committed to recognising public transport as a public good; a service for the Rakyat governed through open and transparent governance. We consistently emphasise safety, service quality, and passenger experience and encourage investment according to evidence and best practices.
We hope that the Federal Government, the Ministry of Transport, APAD and Prasarana will act on the issues raised. It is prudent now for these parties to act in the Rakyat’s interest. Confidence in public transport has suffered during the pandemic, and will likely deteriorate further in the aftermath of this incident. Hence, a clear, genuine commitment towards accountability and governance will be necessary for restoring public confidence in public transport.
In the meantime, to all passengers and staff that have been affected by this incident, we wish them a speedy recovery.