Research has shown that motorcycle fatalities shot up as a result of the March 2006 and June 2008 fuel hikes as the lower income group switched transport modes from cars to motorcycles. A new human disaster of more motorcycle fatalities is imminent, following the latest petrol price increase.
Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak is personally responsible for the failure of the government in providing adequate public transport services ever since he called on Malaysians to “change their lifestyle” when announcing the fuel hike in March 2006 in his capacity as Deputy Prime Minister.
When announcing the fuel hike today, Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak argued that with a higher amount of 1Malaysia assistance (BR1M) , the impact of the increase would be absorbed.
But what the government is not acknowledging is the human cost of increasing the petrol price without providing adequate, efficient and affordable public transport services.
Malaysia has the dubious record of having the highest road fatality risk, i.e. death per 100,000 population, in the world since 1996. (1) Between 2000 and 2009, 4.5 million road accidents were reported with 58,582 deaths. (2)
Motorcycle fatalities are 3 times higher than car fatalities, 6 times higher than pedestrian fatalities and nearly 50 times higher than bus passenger fatalities.(3)
In other countries where public transport services are adequately and efficiently provided, petrol price increase will encourage private car drivers to switch to public transport. However, in the case of Malaysia, each fuel hike exercise means more deaths on the road.
Najib announced the government’s commitment to improve public transport with a RM4.4 billion fund in March 2006 but nothing much happened since then.
Most of the so-called public transport projects such as the long delayed LRT extension project and MRT project are Kuala Lumpur-centric with no national relevance.
These are essentially mega projects designed to feed the big construction lobby than to improve public transport throughout the country.
In fact, the estimated RM1.1 billion subsidy reduction from this exercise is less than the amount lost due to diesel fuel smuggling.
I call on the Government and Prime Minister Najib to acknowledge the human cost of more motorcycle fatalities as a result of the latest fuel hike and take immediate action to formulate a national transport plan with the focus on providing adequate, efficient and affordable public transport services nationwide.
(1) Muhammad Marizwan Abdul Manan et al (2012), motorcycle fatalities in Malaysia, IATSS Research36
(2) Nizam Ahmad et al (2012) Perubahan Harga Petrol Dan Risiko Keselamatan Jalan Raya, Prosiding Perkem VII Jilid 2 (2012), pp 1435-1444
(3) Muhammad Marizwan, Nizam Ahmad et al