Commercial transport industry facing shortage of 3,000 drivers each year

PETALING JAYA: The commercial transport industry in the country is facing a shortage of 3,000 drivers each year, according to industry leaders.

Pan Malaysia Bus Operators Association (PMBOA) president Datuk Mohamad Ashfar Ali said the issue, which has aggravated in the past couple of years, is affecting both the bus and lorry industries.

The lack of drivers has, among other things, led to a number of express buses travelling long distances and not obeying to the second driver requirement, which was also evident in the most recent bus crash in Pagoh that killed 14.

Mohamad Ashfar said potential commercial transport drivers are finding it hard to break into the industry, including obtaining licenses and undergoing training, said to cost up to RM5,000.

“A lot of old drivers are retiring, some are leaving the industry for greener pastures, and a number of others, especially in the southern Peninsular, are going to Singapore to drive there.

“All of these are causing a shortage of commercial transport drivers. And the high entry cost is really making the younger generation to shy away,” he told theSun yesterday.

Mohamad Ashfar urged the government to provide free training to new drivers, similar to how free courses are provided for selected potential coders and entrepreneurs, to encourage more school leavers to join the industry.

He noted that he had, on a number of occasions, raised the issue and sent memorandums to the Finance Ministry and Human Resource Ministry, but has yet to receive a response.

“We have, however, had meetings with the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and we really hope the relevant ministries will do something fast,” he lamented.

Mohamad Ashfar said that with an increase of trained drivers available to pick from, bus and lorry operators would also have no qualms about dismissing bad hats found not to be competent or not practising safe driving.

Meanwhile, Pan Malaysia Lorry Owners Association former president Err Sui See said he also understood from other members in the association that the industry is facing a shortage of drivers.

“To pay the license fee is quite high. Especially for those who have just completed school, a few thousand ringgit is a huge sum of money,” he said.