(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): There is further grim and tragic news from the fourth day of Ops Statik III on Friday, with 16 road deaths and 582 accidents. With another five road deaths, the number of road deaths for the two festivities of Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Chinese New Year this year would exceed the death toll on the roads for the two festivities last year.
In the first four day of Ops III to coincide with the balik kampung rush for the Chinese New Year, there were 2,313 accidents and 67 deaths.
When the Ops II and Ops III operations were announced for the Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Chinese New Year festivities this year, Malaysians were told that the authorities were set to ensure that the road accidents, injuries and deaths during the two festivities this year would be less than those recorded for the two festivities last year.
This is going to be a big failure and a national disaster.
In Ops Statik I last year, there were 9,901 road accidents and 274 road fatalities for the two festivities.
The Ops II last month during the Hari Raya Aidilfitri this year recorded 9,500 accidents and 203 deaths.
In the first three day of Ops III to coincide with the balik kampung rush for the Chinese New Year, there were 2,313 accidents and 67 deaths.
This would mean that the number of road accidents for the
two festivities this year already exceed those recorded last year, i.e.
11,813 accidents this year as compared to 9,901 accidents recorded last
year although the Ops III has only entered its fourth day.
The number of road deaths for the two festivities this year is still
below the toll of last year, but only by the slim figure of four, i.e.
270 deaths to date recorded for this year as compared to 274 deaths last
What Malaysians find most shocking is where is the Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik and why is he silent on the mounting toll of road deaths set to exceed those of the two festivities last year?
If Liong Sik continues to show his indifference to the mounting road toll of accidents, injuries and deaths, it would be a classic example of Ministerial negligence, irresponsibility and incompetence.
Apart from the toll in human lives and sufferings, the high rate of road accidents in the country is also a great loss to the national economy which suffered an aggregate loss of RM5.8 billion in terms of insurance costs and property damage due to injuries sustained from accidents in 1998.
Last year alone, there were 210,964 accidents, 5,744 fatalities and 49,953 people sustaining injuries as a result of road accidents.
The tragedy is that Liong Sik, instead of focussing his Ministry on the alarming toll in human lives and losses to the economy caused by road accidents, prefer to go around talking about achievements in the road safety campaign.
He points to declining trends in accident fatality figures over the last three years, dropping to 5,744 in 1998 from 6,304 in 1996 - despite an average increase of 7 per cent in the country’s vehicle population growth. There is even the claim that in real terms, the rate of fatality declined from 7.41 per 10,000 in 1998 to 6.45 in 1998 against a high of 8.4 fatalities per 10,000 vehicles in 1995.
Malaysia wants a human and humane Transport Minister who is more concerned about the real human and economic costs of the high rate of road accidents than one who is more concerned about statistical play of figures.