As MCO 2.0 kicks in, bus operators ask govt to extend worker aid, moratorium on loans

Malaysian Bus Operators Association president Datuk Mohd Asfar Ali says many of its members have suffered drastic drops to their earnings over the past year, adding that 99 per cent of bookings have been cancelled following the new MCO that starts today. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Malaysian Bus Operators Association president Datuk Mohd Asfar Ali says many of its members have suffered drastic drops to their earnings over the past year, adding that 99 per cent of bookings have been cancelled following the new MCO that starts today. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — Struggling to stay afloat, bus operators nationwide hope the government will extend its Employee Retention Program (ERP) so they don’t have to let go more of their staff during the latest Covid-19 lockdown.

Malaysian Bus Operators Association president Datuk Mohd Asfar Ali told Utusan Malaysia that many of its members have suffered drastic drops to their earnings over the past year, adding that 99 per cent of bookings have been cancelled following the new movement control order (MCO) that starts today.

He also hopes credit companies will suspend payments on loans taken.

“We are really hoping that these credit companies will be able to extend the moratoriums to us bus operators who are feeling the pinch even more, just as our businesses were slowly picking up.

“Besides that, with the ERP assistance, at least we will be able to maintain our bus drivers, more so after our trips dipped by 99 per cent after the MCO was announced,” he told the Malay daily.

The government reintroduced travel restrictions after Covid-19 cases breached the 3,000-mark nationwide.

The Health Ministry recorded the highest number of new infections in 24 hours yesterday at 3,309.

Mutations of the coronavirus, including the more infection strain from the UK, have also been detected in Malaysia.

Penang, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Labuan, and Sabah are all subject to the MCO.

Six other states: Pahang, Perak, Negri Sembilan, Kedah, Terengganu, and Kelantan have been placed under a slightly eased up version, the conditional MCO. Only Sarawak and Perlis are spared much of the restraints as they are categorised as under recovery phase of the MCO, though they too are subject to an interstate travel ban.

Tourism is allowed for in states under the CMCO and RMCO, albeit being subject to strict SOPs, with no such leeway afforded to those under the MCO.

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