Just wondering how our highway concessionaires are prepared for emergencies on the tolled highways especially when the visibility is low and the roads are slippery. I got a nasty sample of how Litrak (the concessioner for LDP) handles it.
Let me relate the story.
It was just 9 in the evening as I made myself to the Sunway toll booth – to my surprise, it was jam-packed and so was the lanes towards Puchong. In fact, it was so jammed that I thought Litrak would have extended their contra traffic for just another couple of hours but that it did not happen. So, I crawled along with the traffic and somehow managed to reach the overhead lane leading towards Puchong Jaya.
From afar, I heard a siren. Immediately I slowed down (actually there was nothing much to slow down, the traffic was already crawling), put my indicators and make the necessary space for the siren walling vehicle to pass over. It was a fire engine and despite the traffic jam, it was heartening to note that most of the drivers moved over and made space for the fire engine to pass. But then, what happened next caught me (and I sure many drivers) by surprise.
Just behind the fire engine, an equally speeding, huge Litrak truck passes by, trying to zip in and out of the traffic jam as if it was trying to mate with the fire engine. That truck almost hit my car in its attempt to keep up with the speeding fire engine. Thankfully we managed to move our cars in time for this giant “bully” to pass us without hitting us.
I am pretty sure that there would have been near-misses as this Litrak truck cutting in and out of traffic. There was no siren, thus no warning whatsoever to tell the drivers that there is another vehicle rushing right behind the fire engine.
Soon, the traffic got better and soon that truck disappeared up in front (the fire engine have long gone disappeared). That got me wondering – just how the highway concessionaires prepared for emergencies on their highways – especially those highways that cut through major cities and towns and are notorious for mind-boggling traffic jams. LDP is one where at peak hours, the traffic is at standstill and no one likes any other drivers cutting in and out of traffic dangerously.
If Litrak’s objective of deploying the huge truck is to provide traffic management around the emergency area (assuming accident on the highway) then a huge truck is not the right vehicle to be deployed especially during peak hours. Litrak should keep some fast, well-equipped motorbikes with loud sirens on standby at strategic places for immediate deployment.
If the objective is to provide additional items or water for the fire engine, then one must remember that the fire engine itself is holding sufficient water for the first attack on the fire. The Litrak truck can come in later for replenishment. Alternatively, have some of these trucks on standby at strategic places and accident-prone areas so that help can be given without much delay.
The importance of secondary support given to emergency vehicles should not be disregarded lightly because it can mean a matter of life or death but sufficient notice (by means of blaring siren or bright colour) must be given to the highway users so that 1. Other road users are aware of the vehicle and 2. Right of way can be given without any delays.
Ploughing a white, no siren whatsoever heavy truck in the middle of the traffic jam is not the way.