KUALA LUMPUR: While allocating RM2.8 billion for road works and streetlight upgrades, the government should have paid more attention to the road safety aspects for motorcyclists.
Veteran activist and Alliance for a Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said he felt slightly deflated by the Budget 2024 announcement today, as no allocation was put aside to ensure road safety despite the increasing death statistics among motorcyclists recorded yearly.
Speaking to the New Straits Times after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim tabled the 2024 budget, Lee said annually, motorcyclists made up more than 65 per cent of the 6,000 road fatalities.
Yet, little to none is done to educate and curb accidents among motorcyclists, he added.
"I expected the government to pay serious attention to motorcycle safety and consider introducing special lanes at accident-prone roads in all the states.
"But sadly, there was no mention of road safety for this group of road users, often those from the B40 families," he said.
Lee said instead of installing LED streetlights and fancy infrastructures, the government should ensure motorcyclists have designated lanes to travel without sharing the road with other bigger and faster vehicles.
"As we all know, even the existing motorcycle lanes, for example, on the Federal Highway itself, are unconducive for motorcycles to travel, and the designated routes are filled with potholes and poor lighting.
"Whenever it rains, these motorcycle lanes become flooded, posing a danger to the bikers," he said.
Lee also highlighted the need for more public service announcements on billboards and the roadside to remind road users to be cautious when on the road, but now, no one seems to bother about safety on the road.
"Maybe the government should also look into this, to constantly remind road users of road safety practices," Lee said, adding that providing free helmets alone to B40 poor motorcyclists would not solve the high number of deaths recorded annually.
The prime minister had announced that the government would give out 100,000 free helmets to children and the poor when tabling the 2024 Budget.
Nonetheless, Lee congratulated the government for the amendment to the Drug-related Act, where addicts will no longer be put behind bars but instead put into rehabilitation centres to recover.
"These will do good to the person with an addiction by giving him a second chance to repent and return to serve the society.
"They are patients who require treatment and not criminals to be locked up in prisons.
The overcrowding issue in prisons is expected to significantly alleviate with the shift in policy, where individuals struggling with addiction are no longer incarcerated," he added.