GEORGE TOWN - There is no need to hire foreigners because the country has enough people who want to be bus drivers, says Peninsular Malaysia Bus Drivers Association chairman Sa'adan Man.
He said there are more than 30,000 bus drivers nationwide at the moment, including factory and school bus drivers.
"Foreign drivers may not be able to adapt to our driving culture and they may be unfamiliar with Malaysian roads.
"In some countries, there are buses with passengers who ride on the rooftop, while in some places the drivers allow passengers to hang from open doors.
"We certainly do not want such drivers on our roads," he said when asked to comment on the alleged shortage of bus drivers in Kuala Lumpur.
Sa'adan also said bus drivers bear a greater responsibility.
"Bus drivers are responsible for the lives of all passengers on board their vehicles.
"The last thing we want is a reckless and indisciplined bus driver," he added.
Sa'adan hit out at certain irresponsible bus company operators who failed to look after the welfare of their drivers.
"Some of them don't even provide their drivers with the RM400(S$155) minimum wage, let alone medical coverage and EPF and Socso contributions," he added.
Sa'adan said bus companies should not be overzealous about making profits and they should not blame their drivers when there are delays in arrival and departure times.
"Just look at the high number of vehicles on the road these days.
"It is not the fault of our drivers when they are caught in the incessant traffic crawls.
"Bus companies should also stop using the excuse of an alleged shortage of drivers to try to bring in foreign drivers," he said.
RapidPenang chief executive officer Mejar (Rtd) Mohd Shukri Abdul Rahman said the company presently had 627 drivers to operate the 320 buses in its fleet.
"We will be hiring another 176 drivers when we add another 80 buses on the road by December.
"So far, we do not have any shortage of drivers, probably because our drivers are happy with the benefits they get.
"Each of them can earn between RM2,000 and RM2,500 a month apart from getting EPF, Socso and medical benefits," he said.
Mohd Shukri also noted that RapidPenang drivers were bound by a two-year contract upon completing their three-week long training in the company's bus academy in Nibong Tebal, south Seberang Prai.