Road Transport Department corrupted by inefficiency of old regime

POSTED BY Yamin Vong ON 24 May 2019


Dear YB Anthony Loke, Minister of Transport

May we suggest that you give yourself two years to modernise the Road Transport Department laws to minimize corruption, pollution and support new technologies. Two years is the least your Ministry needs, probably six years for the system to stabilise.

You’ve inherited a Ministry that has laws from 1959 which are so archaic that systematic corruption become almost unavoidable especially in the Enforcement Department and in the Technical Department.

For instance, every big lorry that is on the road must have its engineering plan approved by a Technical Department engineer.

Just change the  “Build and Use” 1959 law so that the Technical Department is required to provide for sale, ready-made plans for a whole variety of heavy commercial vehicles. That would be more appropriate for the current times when thousands of trailers a year are constructed than have each vehicle have its own building plan.

If the plans are off-the-shelf from the Technical Department, officials will have less opportunity to monetise their authority for personal gain. At the same time, let’s be practical and review the salaries of the enforcement team so that bribes won’t attract them so easily.

Talking about Australia, its government last year tasked its National Transport Commission to review its Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) and its supporting regulations. The focus is:

  1. Improve safety for all road users
  2. Support increased economic productivity and innovation
  3. Simplify administration and enforcement of the law
  4. Support the use of new technologies and methods of operation, and provide flexible, outcome-focused compliance options.

A veteran truck sales manager who declined to be named for obvious reasons says:

“Now, when you apply for a permit for a heavy vehicle, the application must include a mechanical engineering drawing for that specific vehicle. Change the law. Make standard truck body-building plans available for sale, off-the-shelf technical drawings that are done by the Road Transport Department’s Technical Section.

“For instance, the RTD should make available for sale four drawings of different types of wooden bodies for different purposes, four drawings for trailer bodies for different weights, lengths and purposes

“The problem now with the permit application process is that there are too many human beings involved. Frequently, if you don’t pay money, files will go missing or they will take too long to process.

“Even with paying under-the-table money, the delivery time of a truck is five to six months including three months to apply for the permit and three months to build the body.

“And because each plan is unique to each truck and trailer combo, you can imagine how much power is vested with the relevant RTD officer,” he said.

“But these officers are smart – they share with the team and they have learnt not to flash their money.

There you go, YB Anthony Loke. You have inherited a Ministry where there are officials from Technical and Enforcement who share the illegal money and work in teams.

In the transport industry, when one company has a system of bribery so that its overloading is protected, rivals are obliged to follow suit to remain competitive.

Modernise the law so that the consignor is charged for overloading, in the case of sand quarries and sand lorries, timber concessions and their timber lorry contractors.