Genting bus firm to face the music

KUALA LUMPUR - The ill-fated bus to Genting Highlands had been speeding when it crashed into a ravine at Km3.5 of Jalan Genting, killing 37 people on Aug 21.

The bus had been travelling downhill on a sharp winding road when the brakes failed, causing the driver to hit the retaining wall and plunge into the ravine before slamming into a large boulder below.

These and other factors were among the leading causes of the crash, according to a report by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros).

Revealing the report yesterday, acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the bus operator, Genting Transport Sdn Bhd, had failed to comply with regulations under the Safety, Health and Environment Code (SHE).

As such, he said, the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) had been ordered to act against the bus company. The recommendations included shutting down the company as well as taking action against individuals such as the directors.

"The buck stops here. Any other company operating public transport services would be wise to learn from the action that we plan to take against this company. We do not want to see a repeat of this accident or the victims to die in vain," Hishammuddin said after a meeting with a panel of experts on the crash.

He said Miros' reconstruction and analysis of the crash had determined a total of six factors contributing to the accident:

  • The bus was travelling at 61.2kph when it hit the retaining wall, exceeding the speed limit of 50kph;
  • Faulty brakes caused by worn-out linings on both front tyres as well as failure of the brake retarder made it impossible for the bus to slow down as it approached a sharp bend;
  • Location of the Truck Escape Ramp (TER) was hidden by the road geometry and inaccurate road signs, making it difficult for drivers to use the ramp;
  • The road's width which was 4.2m-4.9m wider than the recommended standard of 3.25m;
  • Both retaining wall and TL-6 guard rails which were appropriate to use as safety barriers; and,
  • Failure of Genting Highlands Transport to comply with regulations stipulated under SHE, particularly those related to safety policy, support, driver, vehicle and risk management.

Hishammuddin said Miros' findings had been thorough based on meetings with stakeholders, including the police, Road Transport Department (RTD), Civil Defence Department, Puspakom, Kuala Lumpur Hospital, safety experts and vehicle parts manufacturers.

"Most of these reports concur with Miros' findings, so it is also up to these agencies to decide on what their next step should be."

The completed reports will be compiled by a panel of advisers headed by Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, before being sent to the cabinet at the end of the year.

Hishammuddin said he hoped police and the Attorney-General's Chambers would work together to see if criminal charges could be brought against individuals.

He said the ministry would set up a Driver's Profile Section at RTD to monitor errant drivers and deploy RTD and Puspakom officers at Genting Highlands to conduct checks on buses.