A blend of legal, construction, and anti-corruption strategies needed to address pothole crisis - Lawyer

Blacklisting contractors and ensuring supervision recommended

28 Jan 2024 08:02am
Photo for illustration purpose only. - Photo edited via Canva
Photo for illustration purpose only. - Photo edited via Canva

SHAH ALAM - Malaysian roads are riddled with potholes, a consequence of a complex tangle: profit-driven overloading by lorry drivers, cost-cutting pressure from companies, and the resulting wear and tear.

Addressing this menace requires a multi-pronged approach, tackling not just drivers but also systemic issues.

According to lawyer Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali, trucks are crucial to the economy, but exceeding weight limits jeopardises safety and longevity of roads.

"Authorities have set weight limits for lorries to prevent accidents and road damage.

"However, a widespread disregard for these limits compromises road safety and longevity," he told Sinar Daily recently.

He cited Section 19(4) of the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board Act (CVLB) 1987, explaining that violating CVLB licence conditions, including lorry weight limits, is punishable by a fine of RM1,000 to RM10,000, imprisonment for up to a year, or both.

"Moreover, since August 2, 2010, heavy vehicles over 10,000kg, except buses, are banned on certain parts of the North-South Express Highway during peak hours.

"Violations can attract a RM300 fine, with court charges possibly leading to RM1,000 fines, three months' imprisonment, or both under Section 70(4) of the Road Transport Act 1987," he said.

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Non-compliance persists

Rafique suggested strict punishment and government action as key to road safety.

He proposed several measures: installing weigh-in-motion devices with closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) on rural roads, establishing Road Transport Department (RTD) weighing stations, banning heavy vehicles in residential areas, imposing stricter penalties for overloading, and confiscating illegally modified vehicles.

To improve road quality, he recommended blacklisting poor-performing contractors and ensuring qualified supervision of repairs.

He also called for effective monitoring and reporting systems to prevent corruption.

Azlan Sani, known as Lando Zawawi, who personally funds road repairs nationwide, shared his views in an interview with Sinar Daily recently.

He believed that blaming lorry drivers alone is unfair if roads aren't built to industrial-grade standards.

Rafique echoed this, stressing that solely blaming drivers is "unjustified."

"The issue isn't solely about drivers but includes factors like subpar road construction, poor maintenance, and corruption in construction," he said.

He called for a combined strategy of legal enforcement, improved road construction practices, and transparent, corruption-free processes.

"The path towards smooth roads is paved not by finger-pointing, but by collective responsibility and a nuanced understanding of the problem.

"Only then can Malaysia emerge from this pothole-ridden web," he added.