ABOUT 1,800 of the 15,000 school buses in the country have exceeded their lifespan limit of 30 years, the house heard yesterday.
Datuk Ahmad Maslan says it is a must for all operators to replace their buses after 30 years
But operators of these buses (with licences expiring this year) will be allowed a one-year extension to replace the old buses and not be rushed to buy new ones, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Ahmad Maslan said.
This he said, was only a short term solution for operators to adjust to the lifespan limit of 30 years that was implemented in Jan last year.
"The decision to adjust the lifespan limit of 30 years was based on the fact that bus operators do not make much profit. But for safety, it is a must for all operators to replace their vehicles when it reaches 30 years," he said.
He said it was also the current policy of the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) for used vehicles not more than 20 years to be licensed as school buses until it hits 30 years, giving operators an option if they could not afford to buy a new vehicle.
"SPAD has discussed with the bus operators association and the operators have said that they will upgrade their buses to match international safety standards," he said in reply to a question from Chow Kon Yeow (DAP-Tanjong).
Under 2012 Budget, an additional RM150 million was allocated to the Public Transport Development Fund in the SME Bank from which school bus operators can apply for soft loans at a four per cent interest rate to purchase or refurbish buses.Meanwhile, the House was told that the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) was slow with some procedures because it conducts responsible accounting and was thorough.