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Enforcement success lies with all of us

Saturday July 18, 2009
AT YOUR SERVICE BY DATUK ZAKARIA BAHARI

Having police and JPJ officials at every corner is not the answer. We, as road users, must attain the basic civic characteristic of self-regulating our behaviour and not breaking the law, especially when we think we can get away with it.

An express bus driver with multiple summonses drives some 60 passengers to Kulim, Kedah. He breaks all speed limits, as if there is no tomorrow, and crashes, killing the weak and dependent. The driver survives. Who is at fault here?

The driver, who concealed his summonses from his employer? The employer, who did not regularly check on the status of its drivers? Or the lapsed enforcement?

Careless enforcement kills!

There are no two ways about it. Enforcement is a deterrent to those who intend to defy the law. It provides security to others who abide by it. The ultimate question in enforcement is 'where and with whom does the buck stop?

In the case of express buses, the buck stops with the employer.

But take the case of Mat Rempit for example. Speeding and dangerous stunts have become their unwelcome trademark. Most do not even have a valid licence and others have expired licences. Menacing the streets, they have simply rejected the law and decided to ensure disturbance even during weekends. Causing trouble and being a nuisance, they victimise innocent road users.

It is in such instances that if enforcement is not effective, public safety and security will be compromised, and severely, too. But within this enforcement, too, lies the larger debate of social and parental responsibility towards these youths who menace our roads.

Have we, as a responsible and progressive society, done all we can to eradicate the core of this menace?

On our part, the challenge is to ensure continuous and consistent enforcement efforts, never relenting and being firm in implementation.

The Road Transport Department (JPJ) enforces the road transport laws in Malaysia. Among others, the JPJ is responsible for the regulation of motor vehicles and traffic on roads.

The success of our enforcement is dependent on our ability to deter road users from potentially being and causing a danger to the safety and security of other members of the public. We have often been criticised for being lackadaisical and sloppy in our enforcement, relenting to onsite settlement of "boleh bincang" and the excruciating queues at JPJ transaction counters.

Today, you can transact with the JPJ from your bedroom outside office hours.

We are online for all key services. But like all institutions, the ultimate challenge, and no doubt strength, is in its people and their quality.

The JPJ recently launched its Integrity Plan with the sole aim of enhancing the quality of its most valuable asset, human capital. This plan includes programmes to provide effective public service delivery through human capital integrity development. With regards to enforcement, this plan underlines three major thrusts, underpinned by professionalism, transparency and competency.

The quality of road transport enforcement and policing is imperative to the JPJ.

If we achieve the intended quality in our personnel, our enforcement benefits equally 'in essence, making our roads safe.

To achieve this, we realise that the basic tenet of round-the-clock enforcement is key.

JPJ's enforcement can no longer be an '-to-5" affair. We can no longer be content with "knee-jerk reactions" to rising issues. With over 16 million registered vehicles plying our roads, omnipresence in enforcement is tantamount to road safety.

Within this, too, lies the responsibilities of the public. The idea that, "There aren't any policemen or JPJ officers around, so it's time to jump the red light. After all, I am the only one waiting at this junction' needs to stop.

We must attain the basic civic characteristic of self-regulating our behaviour. In the case of the traffic lights, we must inculcate the behaviour of, "A law is still law. I don't mind losing some seconds as long as I arrive home safely."

The JPJ has initiated 24-hour enforcement since 2007, which places visibility of enforcement as a priority. By being ubiquitous, you increase the Perception Of Being Caught (POBC) among our road users.

POBC is a term coined by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety and Research (Miros) to study the behaviour of road users to enforcement. In this instance, the behavioural response is to the "perception of enforcement being conducted'

POBC is now popular in measuring the success of enforcement operations among enforcing authorities. For instance, during Ops Sikap held during festive seasons, POBC levels are up to nearly 40% from the normal 25% level.

Ultimately, enforcement efforts need to "close the loop'

We must reduce road deaths and deter delinquents and touts from flaunting openly.

Today, we undertake daily enforcement to examine both drivers and buses at 22 terminals nationwide. Approximately 589 express buses are inspected daily before they begin their journey. We are bent on eradicating touts cheating the public at KLIA, LCCT and Puduraya.

Between August 2008 and May this year, we caught and charged 112 touts. Taxis are another area of concern. As of May 25, a total of 4,242 errant cabbies were issued summonses and 71 taxis were seized for various offences.

The success gauge is when the public knows they have nothing to fear as our roads and public transport are being monitored effectively.

This said, in the final analysis, the responsibility of enforcement lies with all of us. It lies in our characters as individuals, whether we beat the traffic lights or wait for them to turn green.

Datuk Zakaria Bahari is the secretary-general of the Transport Ministry.

This article is a verbatim copy of the original article from The Star.