Skilled drivers crucial for Genting route
BUS and taxi drivers must be experienced - and patient - when navigating the winding Genting Highlands road, said industry watchers, following a horrific bus crash that killed 37 on Wednesday.
The express bus had 53 on board when it veered off a busy and treacherous mountain road, tumbling into a deep gully.
The tragedy has led to fresh scrutiny of the drivers plying the notoriously steep road serving the resort, which is popular with Malaysians and foreigners, including Singaporeans.
Genting Highlands Transport bus driver Mohd Dewan Abdul Rani, 56, told the New Straits Times (NST) that bus drivers should be alert to the condition of their vehicles in order to prevent any untoward incident.
"Experience and training are important. In this company, bus drivers are trained," said Mr Mohd Dewan, who has more than five years of experience on the route.
A Genting Highlands taxi driver who wanted to be known only as Tee, 50, told the NST: "There's no problem with the road structure, it's all good. But extra skills and experience are needed to handle vehicles on such a steep and winding road."
Tee also criticised the attitude of some drivers who liked to speed and endanger their passengers' lives.
It emerged yesterday that a tiff between the bus driver and a taxi driver is believed to have been the reason for the crash, according to a report in the NST.
Ms Mussammat Sirajum, 35, who lost her cousin, Mr Rafiq Ali, 55, in the accident, said she found out the bus driver was upset with a cabby who had overtaken the bus recklessly.
She said her cousin, a Canadian citizen of Bangladesh descent, was in Malaysia with his wife and two sons for a holiday.
Her cousin died on the spot, while his wife, Ms Rashidah Buia, 50, and two sons were injured, the NST reported.
Ms Mussammat said Ms Rashidah had told her that the bus driver started shouting vulgarities at the taxi driver.
She told the NST: "The bus driver then overtook the taxi and started speeding, at which time (the bus) hit the barrier and fell."
The driver, who was also killed, was identified by a relative as Mr Lim Kok Ho, 44. He was hired two months ago by Genting Highlands Transport, to which the ill-fated bus was registered.
The relative, who gave his surname as Ong, said Mr Lim had six years of experience driving a bus in Singapore.
Survivors said the bus' brakes appeared to fail, sending it careening out of control and down the steep hillside.
"It kept picking up speed and everyone was screaming in fear," said passenger Suriardi Budiarto, as quoted in The Star newspaper.
According to a company representative, however, the bus had undergone the necessary checks and routine inspections by the authorities and had been certified roadworthy, said the NST.
Housing and Urban Wellbeing Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan was quoted as saying the vehicle's capacity was 44.
When asked if the bus was overloaded, he said: "You do the maths."