Bus operators struggling under CMCO seek assistance

Thiagarajan says most bus operators could not afford to service the loans due to lack of income following the outbreak of COVID-19. – File photo

ISKANDAR PUTERI: An alliance of factory, tour and school bus operators in the state whose businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are hoping for assistance from the government in managing their loan repayments.

According to one of the operators and a representative of the alliance, R. Thiagarajan, on the average, bus operators did not generate any income due to the outbreak but still need to service their loans monthly despite the crisis.

He said most vehicles were purchased through loans obtained from credit leasing companies.

"The Ministry of Finance recently announced moratorium for hire-purchase loans.

"But we are not a big company and could not obtain loans from the bank. So we had to buy the vehicles through loans from credit leasing companies which came with high interest rates of 10 to 13 per cent," he told reporters at a press conference here yesterday, which was also attended by 300 bus operators and drivers.

He said most of them could not afford to service the loans due to lack of income following the outbreak of COVID-19 and the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) and the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).

He said things were very tough that they were relying on Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BPN) to support their families.

"If we can't resume our business until the end of the year, it is highly likely that up to 80 per cent of school bus operators, for example, will cease operations as we will still need money to pay drivers' salaries, maintenance and so on," he said.

Thiagarajan also said the alliance would send a special memorandum to the Johor government this week, in particular, to the 56 state assemblymen, for the matter to be debated at the State Legislative Assembly sitting on May 14.

Meanwhile, bus operator Mohd Sadam Hussien, 28, hoped that the government would allow tour and other bus companies to assist manufacturing companies that did not have enough buses to ferry their workers daily.

He said if they were allowed to do that then they could generate a bit of income to service their loans and pay the drivers' salaries, apart from hoping that the credit companies would also show compassion by easing the payment terms during the COVID-19 pandemic.