The transport ministry hopes to widen the implementation of the MyLesen programme by issuing public service vehicle Class E licence for buses in an effort to ensure the bus service industry remains competitive and safe.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke said this is because based on information from bus service operators, there is a shortage of bus drivers in the country.
"We are indeed short of bus drivers, whether they are stage bus drivers or express bus drivers… I was made to understand that the bus industry operators find it difficult to find bus drivers, difficulty not only in recruitment but also to retain their services.
"(Through the MyLesen programme), we want to produce efficient, prudent drivers to ensure that the bus service industry can also be competitive and safe, that is important...we expect this programme for bus drivers to be implemented this year as well," he said.
He said this at a press conference after launching the MyLesen B2 national programme for motorcyclists in Sungai Petani today, which was also attended by Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.
The MyLesen B2 programme was launched to help the B40 group obtain a Class B2 licence and it is one of the initiatives under the 2023 Budget implemented by transport ministry through the Road Transport Department.
Loke meanwhile said candidates who are eligible to become bus drivers will be selected to attend classes at the driving institute and take tests with all costs being borne by the government, so as to produce enough trained bus drivers.
He also did not deny that many bus drivers in the country migrated to work in neighbouring countries such as Singapore because of the lure of higher income.
"This is also the reason why we lack bus drivers... and that is why we intend to implement a programme to train and license (more) bus drivers," he said.
In the meantime, he said a total of RM2.7 million was allocated in the MyLesen B2 programme and a total of 9,000 candidates from the B40 group are expected to benefit from the initiative.
"...it includes the cost of testing and training at RM300 per candidate... today a total of 306 candidates will follow the programme for this first group throughout the country.
"We are also ready to work with other agencies including the rural and regional development ministry to further expand this (bus) programme but the allocation has to come from the respective agencies," he said.