Often we hear and see in the radio or tv about a certain community leader or ministers blaming the reckless and selfish drivers for the increased road accident. However, have they ever think that their road planning,its design and the quality of the work carry out by their nominated contractors should equally be blame for the increased accidents? Do all these “leaders” have any right to point their blood stained fingers at someone else? Afterall, they are chosen by the people to serve the people and they PROMISED and VOWED on it.
Citizen Nades aka R. Nadeswaran wrote about this on 1/12/2004:-
” Way back in the sixties, pupils in Standard Six learnt the exploits of Francis Drake, Christopher Columbus, Mahatma Gandhi and Ali Jinnah. We also learnt about one Mr MacAdam, who revolutionised the road building industry.
As 11-year-olds, we were perplexed that most of the roads in Malaya at that time were “MacAdamised” roads. Then came someone who decided 11-year-olds had enough of colonial masters and felt they should all learn about Hang Tuah and forget about the Hindu prince called Parameswara.
But those in the public service presently, including Mr Suret Singh, the director-general of the Transport Ministry’s Road Safety Department must have also come across Mr MacAdam. So, what has road safety got to do with MacAdam?
The majority are of the wrongly held view that accidents are only related to speeding, careless driving and the like. But don’t forget that the road signages, construction, condition and maintenance of roads are contributing factors to accidents. For example, a newly-constructed road in SS2 in Petaling Jaya has become a sea of pot-holes and pebbles after rain over the past few days.
While we cannot tell government departments and agencies which contractor they should appoint to carry out road works, (lest yet another scandal ala PMC comes to the fore), at least we can tell them that we need good roads. Therefore, while congratulating the ministry for its far-sightedness in setting up a department to look after road safety, one must not forget to see if the DG and his officers are vested with enough powers to ensure that our roads are safe. Can the DG, for example, compel other departments and agencies to have more visible signs on dangers ahead?
Can the DG ask the Public Works Department to realign any road which it deems is dangerous to the public? At a time when agencies are willing to pay up to RM16, 000 each for plastic coconut trees, will they be willing to spend a fraction for an “Awas” sign? From past experiences, the plastic coconut trees bring other sort of benefits for the people who sign the local order. But can road signs bring about similar rewards?
Can the DG compel the little dictators in local councils to cancel the licences of billboards and hoardings at road junctions?
All the advertisements and television commercials will mean nothing if the people involved do not have the power to put right several wrongs of other departments and agencies who seem to get their priorities wrong.
There was a time when it was a government policy not to allow any sort of advertisements at junctions because they are a distraction to motorists. These days, they are premium spots, not only for the advertisers but also for those who sign the approval forms.The list goes on and on. Suret has the job cut out for him, but he will Be wrong if he thinks the number of accidents and the related deaths can be reduced with the snap of a finger.
Already, the chest-thumpers are at work — claiming that the latest Ops Sikap has brought down the deaths during the recent festive season to 200. The prime minister has chided such feats and rightly so, because one death is one too many. It will be impossible for the department with its small pool of people to undertake a national-level effort.
I am of the view that the department identifies one municipality and implements the policies and measures, then fine tune it and then “export” them periodically to other municipalities. This is the only way to go forward — focus on one area and then get the systems right. Otherwise, the attention will be divided and there will be no concentration in the efforts. We have already spent millions on road safety campaigns which have not brought about the desired results. We are going to spend millions more, but this time around, let us do a bit of planning and execute the plan well.”
Note: This article was published in The SUN on 1/12/2004.