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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Ops Sikap XI: Same 'ol, Same 'ol Eleven Times Over

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Related parody post: Ops Siakap... Fishies Beware!!

Image taken from Wikipedia, hosting by PhotobucketAs of the third day, Ops Sikap XI, launched last Tuesday has shown the same effectiveness of previous holiday traffic operations. In other words, not much difference.

The only other "franchise" Walski knows of that has had so many sequels is probably the Friday the 13th series of films. And probably no less gory.

Granted, without the operations we wouldn't really know if the accident rate, and more importantly the death toll, would be higher or not. But one thing is for sure, the reduced speed limit has not produced the magical effect most simple-minded Malaysians were expecting.

Yes, that was meant as an insult... but only to those who really actually thought the reduced speed limit would be an instant panacea.

The sad reality is that when it comes to driving, a large number of Malaysians simply lack the discipline. Even sadder - this includes the police personnel themselves. This comes from Walski's own experience, so don't take his word for it - observe yourselves, if you get a chance, a police car on patrol (and not in pursuit, or escorting some dumbass VVVVVIPs whizzing past, pissing-off drivers caught in congested traffic).

Lane change without signalling, not stopping properly at intersections... you know, the usual stuff moronic Malaysian drivers do whilst on the road.
(more fishy Ops Sikap commentary in the full post)

Based on data made available by the Royal Malaysian Police, and news reports the last few days, Walski found out the following, almost fishy, interesting points:

Siakap #1: The death toll during the first three days of Ops Sikap XI (52 deaths, 3175 accidents) is the second highest ever recorded, while the number of accidents is the highest ever. The highest death toll recorded during the first 3 days was during Ops Sikap V (53 deaths) in late 2003.

Siakap #2: The leading cause of accidents, as reported in the news, was jumping queue and driving on the emergency lane (yeah... tell Walski something he didn't already know).

Siakap #3: Not a peep about how wonderful the reduced speed limit has been in curbing the number of accidents and/or deaths. Possibly because it hasn't helped one single bit, perhaps?

But to expect Malaysian drivers to change their driving attitude from bad to tolerable (at least) is not going to be achieved by periodic operations codenamed the Bahasa Malaysia equivalent of attidtude (that's sikap, not siakap - which is a type of fish).

Walski has no easy solution to offer. In fact, an "easy" solution probably doesn't even exist. Especially when we are dealing with a problem that has been allowed to compound itself for way too many years.

Reducing road accidents is going to involve efforts from the Road Transport Department, the Ministry of Public Works, the Police - just to name a few off the top of Walski's head. There are problems in all areas related to the infrastructure - road design, road maintenance, road sign standards, lane demarkation standards... in short, a total overhaul of everything road/highway related. And don't let Walski even get started on the driver certification process.

Improving long-haul land public transportation will also help - improving the rail network, that is. While express buses do help, they are not a long-term solution. Ad hoc licenses for school and factory buses are also short-term solutions, which have become, unfortunately, a mainstay of peak holiday season long-distance travel.

Image hosting by PhotobucketUnable to accept the death-toll, Jason decides to take public transportation this Balik Kampung season...

And while high-tech gadgetry in minivans may for make good PR, Walski really wonders what good they will do. In all likelihood, the results of this expensive research venture will probably only reveal what we already know. At a mere RM 200k a pop (plus the cost of the van).

For the remainder of this holiday season's Ops Sikap, we'll just have to wait till the end to see if the measures taken will produce the results intended. The skeptical and cynical side of Walski says that this time around will see an all-time high in road deaths and accidents.

Time to call in the Malaysian Book of Records...