Resumption of affected bus services still gripped by uncertainty

File photo of public buses arrive at a pick up point in the city centre.

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By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Oct 18: Despite the signing of agreement with the federal government, Sarawak Bus Transport Companies Association (SBTCA) is still uncertain about the resumption of bus services offered by three bus companies which ceased operation due to the delay in the disbursement of Interim Stage Bus Support Fund (ISBSF).

SBTCA secretary William Chan revealed that the bus operators were not informed of the date of the disbursement of ISBSF and thus, uncertain about the resumption of the affected bus routes.

“(The) signing of agreement is not the same as getting the subsidies (ISBSF). Hopefully with the agreement, the subsidies can be normalised. There is no specific date yet and the officials are mum about it,” he told DayakDaily when asked about the date of the disbursement of ISBSF and resumption of the affected bus routes.

On the delayed ISBSF payments, Chan said the payments have been long overdue with more than nine months in arrears so far.

“The payment for 2018 previously was 15 months in arrears. The long overdue (payment) has seriously impacted our operation. We will need some time to restore (the bus service) to normal,” he stressed.

Due to the delay in disbursing ISBSF, three bus companies in Sarawak had ceased operation. There were much concerns as many were feared to be affected.

Following that, eleven bus companies and the federal government had on Oct 13, signed a two-year agreement to allow these bus companies to receive ISBSF, the fuel subsidy to provide quality bus services with affordable charges.

It was an interim measure to cover the shortfalls in daily operations of affected stage bus operators and to ensure the continuity of bus services.

The federal government has allocated RM5.6 million for Sarawak this year under ISBSF.

During the signing of the agreement, Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board (LPKP) Sarawak director Razami Mohamad Jamali highlighted that ISBSF payment was delayed due the lack of agreement, which was required by the Transport Ministry.— DayakDaily