By Yamin Vong
It took some time but better late than never and that’s my sentiment regarding the bauxite mining in Bukit Goh, Kuantan that ignited a lot of passions.
It made plenty of people rich, especially villagers with oil palm small holdings. Suddenly their small plots of land made them millionaires, rich beyond their imagination. Good for them and hope they and the state government enjoy more prosperity in the future.
This money and the foreign exchange it draws is a good injection for the local and national economy. Additionally, there will be a strong multiplier effect because this is new money for newly rich people who will buy the consumer goods and new cars, bikes and trucks that they have wanted.
What were bad were the illegal practices that were inspired by greed and polluted the environment.
The government has given a three month period for the bauxite mining industry to get its act together and we hope that the national attention on this specific sector will benefit the nation especially in the transport industry.
The reddish coloured bauxite dust enveloped most of the main roads from Bukit Goh to the port and also a section of the East Coast Expressway 2 (LPT2) that passed the Bukit Goh area.
Putting aside the air pollution caused by the open mining itself and focussing just on the air pollution caused by its land transport, it’s obvious that SPAD, JPJ and the police have not done enough to prevent overloading and the spillage of bauxite onto the roads.
There are two measures that could be taken:
In the short term, there must be enforcement against overloading. The most common prime mover/trailer combination used by the bauxite transports is the 1x2x4 axles rig. This combination allows a legal payload of 35 tonnes. To maximise their profits, the transporters who are paid by the tonne will overload to 120 tonnes, piling the bauxite like a mountain on the trailer. As a result, bauxite spills from the trailer. The law is that the load should be flat and not above the sideboard.
For the longer term, SPAD and the Ministry of Transport should impose conditions on the land public transport of dusty material such as bauxite. The trailer should be of a closed box construction and not a drop-side trailer. A closed box trailer such as those used by YTL, among many other companies, will reduce the spillage of bauxite from the gaps in the sides of the trailer. Tarpaulins to cover the bauxite also won’t do.
If Pahang can effectively enforce laws against overloading, it will be a good template for authorities to act in Perak, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory and Perak. It will show the way for SPAD, JPJ and the Police to work together. Perhaps it will also draw the government’s attention that what is happening in Bukit Goh regarding lorries overloading is also happening in Perak, Johore and Selangor, only that sand is not reddish and dusty.
Perhaps the laws have to be adjusted to reflect that trucks have become more powerful and that the new highways are designed for higher axle loads? Otherwise, laws against overloading are being broken systemically and this is the best evidence that corruption and collusion has also become systematic.
PARK and Go
Over the past two months we had reports that there was a shortage of public parking at Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS), the transport hub for express buses.
Users who drove to the TBS complained that they could not park their cars and accompany their family members or their friends off as Malaysians are wont to.
There are two car parks for the facility. The TBS itself has a car park for a few hundred cars while DBKL has built a bigger multilevel car park across the rail tracks. This is connected by a covered walkway.
It’s obvious that the car park is “always full” because the rm4.00 per entry per day is too cheap.
What does SPAD and DBKL want from the TBS car park? Is it supposed to be a long term parking or is it for TBS users who want to park and send off their friends?
Whether it’s for daily parking or short 2 hour parking, both the car parks are at about 90 per cent occupancy during the day.
Perhaps TBS parking should be based at RM3.00 an hour for the first two hours and RM4.00 for following hours.
For the DBKL parking, perhaps adjust it to RM2.00 an hour.
What is happening now is that air travellers are using the TBS and DBKL facility as a long term car park. RM4.00 a day is a sneeze compared to RM74 a day at the KLIA and KLIA2 car parks.
When I asked some officials about this, they said that making the car park more expensive would make people angry.
What about the people who couldn’t park and see off their family members and friends, I wondered. Wouldn’t they get upset if they knew that public facilities that were built with public money were not being put to the best use?