KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 — School and vans operators who have been facing financial woes for almost two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic are appealing for subsidies to go back into business.
Some have even resorted to ‘hiding’ their vehicles from creditors, while some have been facing food shortages, Selangor, Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur School Bus Association chairman Mohd Haron Mohd Sidik said.
He said there were also those who had to sell their vehicles below the market price to feed their families, thus reducing the number of operators needed to meet demand and future needs.
“A van can be sold for RM20,000 but because schools remain closed, it has to be sold for only RM6,000,” he told Bernama, today.
He said the challenging times had also forced more than 30 per cent of the approximately 5,000 service operators in the Klang Valley to retire or switch jobs for survival.
“Many have had to return to their villages, become nasi lemak or fruit sellers. There are those who have given up on their business because they can no longer afford to pay vehicle loans,” he said.
Therefore, Mohd Haron is appealing to the government to provide subsidies to operators to revive their operations following the reopening of face-to-face school sessions from October 3.
Among others, his team has proposed that the government provide assistance of RM600 a month for three months or a “one-off” payment of RM1,800, through the Budget 2022 which is expected to be tabled at the end of next month.
He said the subsidy was needed, among others, to pay for the inspection costs at the Computerised Vehicle Inspection Centre (Puspakom) as well as to help meet the daily needs of operators.
“We are at a deadlock (to start operations) because there is no money (to pay) for Puspakom and for insurance and road tax. All savings have been used up…one minute schools are closed, the next they are open,” said Mohd Haron, who submitted a memorandum on the matter to the Transport Ministry last week.
He said operators who were still running the business were also concerned about students being asked to attend school on rotation as there is a possibility that parents will not want to pay the full monthly fare.
“I appeal to the government to help us immediately because we are being categorised as an ‘endangered species. We are at loss as to how to start the business later once school reopens,” he added.
On September 12, Senior Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Radzi Jidin announced that the ministry would begin face-to-face school sessions from October 3 according to the respective phases in the National Recovery Plan (NRP).