Friday, 10 February 2012

Operators refuse to budge

by Lim How Pim, Posted on February 10, 2012, Friday

Lau Khing Heng

KUCHING: Poor design of new terminal, fear of higher rentals and management fees spook bus companies.
Bus companies here will not move to the new bus terminal Kuching Sentral at Jalan Penrissen because they claim it is poorly designed and does not meet the standard expected of a major transport terminal.
Sarawak Bus Transport Companies Association (SBTCA) chairman Lau Khing Heng said its members felt left out in the planning and design of the new terminal because their suggestions were not taken into account and the terminal did not meet their requirements.
The bus companies will refuse to move from the existing Third Mile Bus Terminal near the Boulevard Shopping Mall here if the authorities do not review the design, he said.
SBTCA is the umbrella body for 30 bus companies, many of which ply the long haul routes including those from Kuching to Miri and Pontianak.
“Prior to the construction in 2008, we discussed with the contractor and told persons-in-charge that we want a new terminal similar to those built in Sibu, Bintulu and Mukah.
“We told them exactly what the criteria were but to our disappointment, they did not take our input seriously. Our expertise and experience were not taken heed of,” he said by phone here yesterday.
Lau lamented that Kuching Sentral did not have enough parking bays and lacked safety features.
As such, he demanded that a dialogue be held between the association and the authorities including Minister of Local Government and Community Development Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh and Kuching City South Council (MBKS).
“We are not trying to politicise the issue. What we need is a win-win solution.”
He said the association had sent a formal request for meeting to Wong but there was yet a response from the ministry.
“We sent the letter to Wong Soon Koh on Jan 6, way before the concluded Chinese New Year.
“So far, we have nothing from him. As for MBKS, we will soon deliver a letter to ask for a dialogue session.”
Lau also said that the bus companies wanted MBKS instead of a private corporation to manage Kuching Sentral.
It had been decided that Kuching Sentral Sdn Bhd would be running the new bus terminal and this naturally meant higher rents and possibly other management fees, he said.
“We are offering public services and not really making big profits.
“Therefore, we prefer local councils like MBKS to take charge of the management.”
He said the association was informed of moving to Kuching Sentral by end of the month only early this week.
“We received the letter dated Jan 27 only two days ago (Feb 7).
“There isn’t enough time for us to address many issues and we have decided not to move unless the authorities talk to us.”

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