Despite complaints by residents in Kuantan about having to inhale dusty air over the past few years because of the bauxite mining activities, some are willing to come all the way, including from Sabah and Sarawak, to become lorry drivers to transport the ore.
The lucrative pay being offered to lorry drivers attracts many from outside Pahang to take up the job, although they do not have the permit to transport the mineral.
And, many of them also have no care for road safety, to the extent that road accidents involving bauxite lorries occur almost every week.
It was only following a road crash that occurred on Dec 21 last year that the matter made headlines.
The crash killed teacher Nohaili Ahmad Zabidi, 40, of Sekolah Kebangsaan Balok, when the car she was in was hit by a bauxite lorry's dislodged tyre at Jalan Pintasan Kuantan-Pelabuhan.
A bauxite lorry driver, Wan Rosli Wan Muda, 43, claimed that most of the bauxite lorry drivers who were reckless were from outside Pahang.
"They operate without a permit and it is because of them that the enforcement authorities often carry out inspections against bauxite lorry drivers, and when this happens, there will be delay in sending the ore to the port," Wan Rosli told Bernama .
Those without permit paid more
He said he was paid RM60 per trip and was able to earn RM180 a day, adding that there may be drivers without permit who were paid more.
"Lorry drivers who have permit only operate until 4pm because we are bound by the terms and conditions of the permit, but they (drivers without permit) don't care about it," Wan Rosli added.
However, he said, following the announcement on the three-month moratorium on bauxite mining, beginning tomorrow (Jan 15), almost 90 percent of lorries without permit had left.
"If they are still here, we will be shrouded in dust from the many bauxite lorries passing the area," he added.
Meanwhile, Roslan Aisha, 44, who is from Penang, said he was lured to come and work as a bauxite lorry driver in Kuantan because of the lucrative income.
"But now, with the moratorium imposed from Jan 15, I'll have to go back… but I am still thinking what to do to support my family," Roslan added.
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