The Transport Ministry has ordered an immediate two-week suspension of the permits of 28 vehicles of Syarikat Usaha Maju Trading Sdn Bhd, one of which was involved in a road accident that claimed five lives last Saturday
The incident occurred at 11.45am near the Menora Tunnel in Perak on the North-South Expressway.
Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook today said the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) will issue the suspension notice to the company and the Road Transport Department (RTD) has been instructed to ensure that all the 28 vehicles are at the depot during the period.
Loke said the entire fleet will be grounded while the ministry conducts an audit on the firm.
He said depending on the outcome of the audit, the company could have the licence for its operations revoked.
“I am taking this strict action to send a message to all companies and vehicle operators. You must be responsible towards road safety whenever you are on the road.
“We cannot take safety for granted. Enough is enough. When drivers cause deaths on the roads, companies must be held liable as well,” said Loke.
On Saturday, a trailer belonging to Usaha Maju Trading collided into several vehicles on the North-South Expressway when its driver lost control of the vehicle.
The collision caused a Kia Forte carrying a family of five to burst into flames, killing everyone on board.
Loke said the 41-year-old driver is under police custody and had tested positive for methamphetamines and added that he had 28 traffic-related summonses to his name.
“JPJ has already suspended his driving licence,” said Loke.
Yesterday, Tan Win Han, the owner of the Kia Forte, came forward to help the police identify the victims.
The 31-year-old told reporters at the hospital mortuary that he learnt of the road accident through social media and feared his 60-year-old mother whom he named as Lee Len Ying, may be one of the victims.
“My mother was part of a group which were on their way to Taiping for a church activity.
“Church members had contacted me earlier asking me where is my mother as the others had reached their destination safely,” Tan said.
Tan and a few other people had been at the mortuary since 9am today to provide DNA samples to the police in identifying their relation to the victims who were burnt beyond recognition.
A woman at the mortuary who declined to give her name believes her daughter and grandchild may also be among the victims.
She said she last spoke to her daughter at about 8am on Saturday, adding that she last saw them in a picture of the two having breakfast an hour later.
“She also posted a picture of her breakfast, which she had with her one-year-old at about 9am,” the grandmother said.
The Kia Forte was reportedly dragged by the trailer and smashed into the expressway divider before erupting in flames.
District police chief Assistant Commissioner Razali Ibrahim said that apart from the Kia Forte, two other cars, a Proton Iswara and a Perodua Myvi, were involved in the accident with a trailer carrying iron ore at KM255.3 northbound of the NSE.
Razali said that the trailer driver claimed his vehicle’s brake had malfunctioned, adding that he had swerved into the right lane on the NSE to avoid hitting the vehicles in front of him.
“He however did not notice the victims’ car that was travelling on the right lane,” the policeman said.
The car was caught in between the trailer on the left and the concrete barrier on the right before both vehicles caught fire.
The victims were unable to escape as they were pinned to their seats due to impact of the collision.
Firemen had to cut open the roof of the car to retrieve the remains.
The accident caused a massive crawl along the expressway. Until late evening, traffic was still slow-moving as PLUS workers removed the iron ore using an excavator.
The remains of the victims were taken to the Kuala Kangsar Hospital.
Razali said police hope to release the victims’ bodies in four days.
“We need time to confirm the victims’ identities before releasing them,” he said.
A baby is believed to be among the victims.