RMCO: Little ‘balik kampung’ traffic on major highway exits despite travel ban lift

A general view of traffic at the Jalan Duta Toll Plaza on the first day of the recovery movement control order June 10, 2020. — Pictures by Yusof Mat Isa
A general view of traffic at the Jalan Duta Toll Plaza on the first day of the recovery movement control order June 10, 2020. — Pictures by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 — Malaysians appear to have put on hold their plans to head back to their hometowns, even as the authorities finally lifted the ban on interstate travel after nearly three months since it enforced movement curbs.

Traffic on all exits into major highways to the north, south, and the east coast was smooth despite the visibly increased number of vehicles seen on the road, likely due to people returning to work.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said on Sunday that Malaysia was now in a recovery phase, having succeeded in flattening the Covid-19 infection curve through strict suppression measures that started in March.

Now, the country is under what the government calls a “recovery movement control order” (RMCO).

Interstate travel and domestic flights have been allowed, and more non-essential businesses will  reopen again starting today under the new phase, to last until August.

All this is subject to stringent health guidelines prepared by the Ministry of Health.

A general view of traffic on the North-South Expressway near the Sungai Buloh Overhead Bridge Restaurant on the first day of the recovery movement control order June 10, 2020.
A general view of traffic on the North-South Expressway near the Sungai Buloh Overhead Bridge Restaurant on the first day of the recovery movement control order June 10, 2020.

In a public service announcement broadcasted on Twitter, highway operators encouraged people planning to travel back to their hometowns to avoid large family gatherings, and do so in a staggered schedule so as to prevent heavy traffic congestions.

The country’s majority Muslims are technically still celebrating Aidilfitri, the biggest religious and cultural event that lasts an entire month.

This year’s celebration was limited to just a day and visits were kept to just 20 family members who live within the same state.

With the interstate travel ban lifted, the authorities are anticipating more traffic on major highways as domestic migrants can finally make that trip back to visit relatives.

Yesterday, the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador said the authorities will now focus on managing traffic, and that he has directed more personnel to conduct highway patrols.

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