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The accident involving a ‘lori hantu’ killed two students near a school in Selangor on Jan 14. Reports were lodged against the dangers posed by such lorries near the school, but nothing was done.

I don’t know if anyone has noticed but there are strange things going on around us these days.

Just the other day, I was caught in an impending thunderstorm while driving home at the end of what can only be described as a gloomy day.

The sun did not rise that morning, and the entire afternoon had been dark and as miserable as miserable can be.

On the drive home that evening, the bright flashes of lightning started streaking across the sky and the sound of thunder would have sent even a hearing impaired person running for cover.

Yes, Thor, the god of thunder and storms, would have been proud of their work that day.

In short, even the most sceptical persons would not have doubted that it was about to start raining, and rain real heavy.

Then, just as I was about to accelerate, as any other Malaysian motorist would do to “avoid the rain”, I caught sight of a road crew.

Believe it or not, this motley group were preparing to do the darndest thing. They were about to tar — yes, tar — the road.

Now, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that it was not the smartest of things to do on a wet day. “They’re about as sharp as a bowling ball... haven’t these chaps read the ‘how to tar a road for dummies’,” I wondered.

True enough, the road was tarred by the time I passed it the next day, and as expected, just a month later, the same stretch is not only uneven but also filled with potholes.

One wonders how the authorities and others tasked with maintaining our roads are going about doing their job.

Stretches that are tarred can be seen relapsing into a state of disrepair within months. There is no other explanation for this but shoddy work and probably poor quality of materials used.

Motorists are just fed up. It is about time the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) looked into how contracts for road jobs are given out, and inspection done on the quality of materials used.

It is obvious that the quality of work is shoddy, with uneven patches visible after a job is finished.

One can only wonder how the engineers or supervisors tasked with inspecting the roads after they are tarred can okay the job done before payment is made to the contractors.

I dare say there is hardly any stretch, just that one stretch, where a motorist, especially motorcyclists, can just step on the pedal or squeeze the throttle without worrying about running into a hole in the middle of the road, even after the roads are tarred.

This is despite all that has been written about it, with even the auditor general bringing up the issue in his annual reports.

Politicians have also talked about it and promises have been made, but the potholes are still there, and by the looks of it, more are appearing.

Talking about the state of decline of our roads, a recent tragedy involving a runaway lori hantu. which rammed into 37 vehicles in front of a secondary school in Bandar Damai Perdana, Kajang, Selangor, killing two female students, sums up what is happening.

A day after the tragedy, a minister directed the Road Transport Department (JPJ) to conduct enforcement and monitor lori hantu activities around the country.

Lori hantu, or ghost trucks, are lorries mainly used in construction sites. Such vehicles are not allowed to use public roads as they are not covered by insurance and road tax.

The sight of such lorries transporting construction materials in main roads despite not having documents is common, especially near construction sites.

The irony of it all is that why does it take a tragedy before people spring out of their slumber and start talking about doing something.

In the case of the Kajang tragedy, it was reported that several reports had been lodged about the dangers posed by such lorries near the school, but apparently, nothing was done about it.

Someone needs to answer for this.

Sharanjit Singh is a veteran journalist who feels less talk and more action is needed to save planet earth from mankind.

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