RE: “Low Tech” issues with new “High Tech” integrated terminal
Malaysians often comment that public transport in Malaysia is a joke. Prime Minister Najib has tasked Idris Jala, Syed Hamid Albar, and the people at Pemandu and SPAD to ensure that real, serious improvements are made to the way the government delivers on its commitments, including public transport.
Unfortunately, it seems that some people in various branches of the government have still not gotten the message.
The issues surrounding the Integrated Transport Terminal at Bandar Tasik Selatan (officially called Terminal Bersepadu Selatan Bandar Tasik Selatan or TBS-BTS) have helped finish off 2010 and begin 2011 with collective embarrassment for the government on the public transport file – clearly the last thing that Prime Minister Najib needs to be dealing with.
To summarize the issue: The building is ready, and the DBKL had approved the start of bus operations on 1 January 2011. Terminal Management company TMAS had already opened the terminal to the public in December and invited 190 bus operators (of which 10 had already agreed).
However, the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry has issued a directive that the terminal should start operations on 2 February 2011 – the same day that Puduraya (which is currently being refurbished) was expected to open. That project, which should have been completed by the end of 2010, was already delayed and the 1 month extension would have helped ensure that both terminals would be ready, together.
To make the story even stranger, the CVLB has directed bus operators to shift to the new terminal by 1 January 2011. This directive came in the form of a memo sent by fax on 30 December 2010!
In response, the bus operators have claimed that the directive gives them too short a notice. They also happily mentioned the additional costs of the terminal & operations (which they apparently have to bear) and threatened to impose a surcharge on fares.
Update: CVLB Director Halimah Sadique has now given bus operators until 15 January to move in!Worst of all, Ashfar Ali of the Pan Malaysian Bus Operators’ Association has delivered the toughest hit of all, claiming that the high-tech centralized ticket system will cost passengers more and will not stop touting, as TMAS has claimed!
TRANSIT: In case you are wondering – touting exists because of weaknesses in the system – namely in communication & delivery of information. Since passengers cannot plan in advance, they must show up at the terminal which puts them at the mercy of the touts who offer information & services.
And if this was not strange enough, members of UMNO and PKR were present together at a demonstration complaining that the poor residents of the area have not been given access to the retail lots in the terminal and the leasing costs are too high!
Update: The Federal Territories & Urban Wellbeing Minister will now take up the cause of the low-income residents and hawkers with respect to the new terminal. We’ll see how long this lasts!
It should have been so simple – the Integrated Transport Terminal had been built, now the bus operations just had to start in a timely and effective fashion. What happened instead continues to prove that the Malaysian government can build great infrastructure but cannot manage and deliver a project properly.
It appears that all the stakeholders cannot even clearly answer the all-important question of “who is in charge?”. And instead of resolving their issues through communication & discussion, they take everything to the media, generating confusion & embarrassment once again. Sadly, the Malaysian media does not help much. It appears that they simply reported the information from the TMAS briefing verbatim, and did not even bother to ask simple questions like “does this high-tech bus terminal have a website and phone number?” or “How can the public can get information about bus services in advance, so they do not come to the terminal without information and fall prey to touts like at Puduraya?”
The rakyat cannot be faulted for thinking to themselves, “If our government agencies cannot manage the delivery of one bus terminal properly, one can only wonder what will happen with the RM36 billion (to start) MRT network!”
Malaysians should disappointed. The ‘jokers’ at the various government agencies should be ashamed. Idris Jala should be worried, and Prime Minister Najib should be furious.
And Halimah Sadique, the Chair of the CVLB, should resign instead of trying to be a hero. She publicly criticized her own CVLB Director, Naimah Ramli, because buses were still at Bukit Jalil and had not moved to the new terminal yet, saying “I had expected all of them (bus operators) to move in by today (Jan 1). Do you know the rakyat is miserable at Bukit Jalil?”
[TRANSIT: Honestly, Halimah, did you just discover this misery in your recent visit? Where have you been for the past 8 months?]
Halimah should know that the rakyat who use public transport have been miserable since 1987, when the CVLB was created. And to be very frank, in her 1.5 years as Chair of the CVLB, Halimah has accomplished little to reduce that misery. Despite multiple fare increases, bus service has not improved in terms of quality or safety.
By publicly criticizing her own director, Halimah has made it clear that she is not in control of the CVLB, and should therefore step down and let someone else take charge. More importantly, the CVLB should be disbanded and replaced by SPAD immediately.
TRANSIT: It is clear that something is rotten in the CVLB.
Moaz Yusuf Ahmad
on behalf of TRANSIT
What a way to end a decade and begin a new one! We hope that the message gets across to the public and to the government that project management and delivery in Malaysia is in dire need of improvement.
Without significant improvements quickly, we can continue to expect poor examples like the Terminal Bersepadu Selatan.