Planned new flexi time to give drivers more rest days, says CEO

Chief Executive Officer, Rapid Bus Sdn Bhd, Zohari Sulaiman. Chief Executive Officer, Rapid Bus Sdn Bhd, Zohari Sulaiman.

Rapid Bus Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Zohari Sulaiman has acknowledged that the company is facing a shortage of drivers.

“It is a challenge to get them to stay.

“We always have walk-in interviews at our depots.

“At first we had a lot of people coming in for interviews, but the number is diminishing and it is not meeting our target,” he said.

He also said that the turnaround rate was quite high, due to discipline problems and resignations.

“In Kuala Lumpur, we have about 1,600 drivers for RapidKL. If we were to include Kuantan and Penang, our drivers number more than 2,200.

“Right now, we need about another 500 drivers,” he added.

On drivers being forced to do overtime work, Zohari said: “We are planning to have a new flexi-time, so that they can work 16 days, instead of the conventional 30 days a month.

“We do not force our drivers to drive. We limit their overtime to no more than four hours a day.

“There is no point in getting them to take on longer shifts because their efficiency will be affected as they will not get enough rest,” he said.

When asked about the poor working conditions, Zohari refused to comment.

He, however, said the company spent a lot of money to train drivers as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR).

“Drivers we hire need to have a valid D licence with at least three years of driving experience.

“Then we train them at our academy for them to obtain the required E and PSV licences. It costs us RM6,000 per person for the licence. This is part of our CSR.

“We pay for all the training over three months. Our new Bus Academy in Cheras Selatan has 120 beds.

“This provides accommodation for staff from out of town, until they complete their training.

“After graduating, they get an accommodation subsidy of RM150 a month for a period of 12 months,” he explained.

“On top of their full salary, the drivers are given driving allowance of RM30 a day,” he added.

Zohari said a new junior driver could expect to earn more than RM2,000 per month while a senior could get above RM3,000 per month.

“Our drivers also have the opportunity to climb the career ladder.

“They can be promoted from driver to Captain 1, Captain 2 and Senior Captain, and from Senior Captain up to non-executive supervisor,” he added.