I thought I heard someone saying over the TV3 News at 8 pm today that it's usual for bus and lorry divers to take drugs in order to give them strength to undertake extra trips.( NST August 26, confirms that En. Mohd Yasin Yacob, President of the Peninsular Bus Drivers Association said about 30% of the drivers did so). It made me literally jump out of my seat to make some comment about it. No wonder they can get their "trips" mixed up - the narcotic and the one on the road!
PM's directive was just to investigate what makes them turn to drug. "We don't know whether they take it before or after their
(presumably road) trip," I heard him say on TV . Investigation is good but I'm sure we already know some of the causes as given by Union or Association officials. They had to do as many trips as possible in order to make more money since the basic pay is so puny ( about RM200?) I remember the MOT making a ruling before that lorry and bus driver should not do more than 8 hours without a period of rest. What happened to that ruling?
Trying to find out why the drivers take drugs would be like trying to find out why we have thousands of drug addicts. The simple answer is because the 'shit' is available and it certainly has more kick than a pep or vitamin pill. The drivers surely have other alternative sources of extra energy like coffee "tongkat Ali", vitagen, red bull etc. Liquor is of course a no-no, before or while driving.....! "After driving" doesn't exist. If a driver takes on another trip immediately after one is done, it automatically becomes "before driving"!
So, what's the solution? To me it's back to the question of self-discipline and a sense of responsibility. Bus and truck drivers in western countries, even in Japan an Korea, are known to be hearty drinkers. But they take full responsibility over their "loads"- that include passengers - and we seldom hear of long-distance busses ( like The Greyhound in the US) or trucks ( like the Fedex or HDL) meeting with serious accidents. The drivers worked very long hours too and they do just as much extra time when they needed more money. What makes them different from our bus and truck drivers?
Good working conditions, adequate remunerations and well-maintained vehicles could be the cause and must be given priority consideration by the employers in Malaysia. Government should have a special team of officers to look into these matters as part of the responsibility for issuing various licences and permits. Drivers should be given regular health and efficiency tests, the cost to be borne by the employers.
But on top of all these, the drivers must have or acquire a sense of responsibility and dedication to the people and the goods that are placed in their charge. You can see a lot of these among the bus and truck drivers of the developed countries. Most of them wear uniforms which give an added sense of discipline.
Developing and inculcating such a sense of responsibility, dedication and self-discipline is what "becoming a developed country" involved. It certainly is not just a matter of developing the infrastructure and economic fundamentals, nor is it a question of developing the human assets through training and education to suit the need of the labour market. It is the conditioning of people to acquire a sense of responsibility and self-discipline which is the more difficult thing to undertake. Neglect this and development will become a mad scrambling for self-enrichment on the "dog-eat-dog" basis, where bus, lorry and taxi drivers couldn't care two-hoots for the wellbeing of their "loads", teachers are not too concerned about the general wellbeing of their students as long as they get got grades, public officials don't really care if their clients are "happy" with the service they get or otherwise.
Everybody ( especially those in a position of power) will then be only concerned with "getting rich quick" or "making as much money as possible" and everbody else can go to hell! With such an attitude everyone might end up in that godforsaken place...