Debt stress will be the death of tour bus drivers, says association

KUALA LUMPUR : An association for tour bus drivers is worried for its members after the deaths of four tour bus drivers in the past three months, including one who jumped from a building.

Pertubuhan Gemilang Agensi Pelancongan dan Pengusaha Bas Malaysia’s (GAPP) vice-president Wan Shairi Wan Ahmad said the other three reportedly died from heart disease.

Worried with this development, which he said was related to debts incurred with loss of income because of Covid-19, he has suggested that tour bus drivers be given counselling to help them manage psychological and emotional stress.

According to Bernama, Wan Shairi said since 2019, many tour bus operators had bought new buses in preparation for, and to support the government’s efforts in, the Visit Malaysia Year 2020 initiative which had to be aborted because of the pandemic.

“On average, the loan repayments for a new tour bus are between RM8,000 and RM12,000 a month. There were also tour bus operators who bought more than one bus at that time.

“However, due to the pandemic (restrictions), tour bus operators could not earn any income,” he said at an online press conference today in conjunction with the Malaysia Tourism Council’s (MTC) presentation of special assistance to tour bus drivers affected by the pandemic.

According to him, there are 6,404 tour buses nationwide registered with the authorities.

Meanwhile, MTC president Uzaidi Udanis said they managed to raise RM30,000 through an online charity concert at the Malaysia Virtual Experience platform developed by the Malaysia Productivity Corporation on April 30 to be distributed to the tour bus drivers.

Since 2019, many tour bus operators had bought new buses in preparation for the Visit Malaysia Year 2020 initiative.

He said the recipients under the first phase involving 100 tour bus drivers would have RM300 each credited into their accounts starting on Monday.

At the online session, some tour bus drivers also shared their experiences on the difficulty of getting a new job because of their age, which has led to some of them selling satay and working as couriers.

FMT

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