The Transport Workers Union's recent call to the government to 'formulate a public transport policy to safeguard the interest of the public and industry players', is not only timely but demands an immediate nd critical review by the authorities.
The past efforts to privatise the public transport industry has failed, to say the least. Particularly affected is the stage bus service nationwide. Worse, those who secured the rights to operate went on to outsource for quick money and this has definitely led to an unaccounted service quality deterioration.
Today, hoping to get a bus ride is an option only for foreign nationals and illegal workers perhaps. This is true not only within towns and the city centres, but also all over the country.
In the interest of cost optimisation, pollution control and to reduce loss of productive hours spent on the road, the better option is to have an effective public transport system. Such a system will be welcomed by all citizens as they do not have to get stressed out getting to and from work six days a week, let alone waste so much of an ever decreasing fuel resource.
For these tens of thousands of young and old workers, their best form of public transport is the stage bus. Stage buses - if adequately managed - will provide many benefits to the nation and its citizens. It is unthinkable why our policy makers are not considering the following:
- With lesser people having to depend on their own private vehicles, our roads will experience lesser traffic jams.
- With less private vehicles, the risks of road accidents and mishaps are also reduced, saving lives and productive man-hours.
- With better managed buses, we will see more passengers willing to pay for a comfortable and stress free bus ride to and from work.
- With frequent and reliable buses we will save the unproductive hours lost on the roads and use them instead for an overall higher national productivity.
- A better public transport system will mean more employment opportunities especially for retired public and private sector employees and our ex-servicemen.
- A well managed stage bus system can also offer stakeholding opportunities to our citizens who can thereby participate in the net asset development of the nation.
A highly reliable and efficient public bus service will bring us international acclaim as tourists will proclaim how easy it is to get from point to point. In fact we can even train our resources to bid and manage similar services in other countries as this is what the new economy is all about.
Therefore the government certainly owes it to the citizens to provide a reliable and efficient public transport system. Since the privatisation policy has only devastated all good bus transport services, it is time for policymakers to get back to the drawing board. Unless, of course, there is a hidden agenda to profiteer at the expense of the man-in-the-street.
Let us hope this is the last time we need to talk about this much highlighted failure. Let us hope that 2006 will finally see light at the end of the tunnel. If we fail to do so, then the government must hold itself accountable for the total collapse of our public transport system.