I was on my way to pick up my son, late one night recently, from his part-time job in one of the more popular shopping malls in Johor Bahru when I saw a build up of traffic up ahead. In my mind I can only think of two reasons why there can be a build up of traffic at that time of night.
The intermittent flashes of blue light told me that, true enough, one of the two was the cause and unfortunately, as I was approaching the junction where the build up of traffic occurred, the sight of a mangled motorcycle, pieces of plastic and a lifeless but covered body on the road, made me realise that this was one of them fatal ones.
Luckily for me, I was alone in the car. If my wife was with me, I would have told her to look in the other direction. The sight of a body on the road, lifeless and covered with whats available is never a pretty sight, even for a man, what more for a woman, no matter how tough and strong she may be.
The sense of sadness at seeing at what was a live person does overwhelm you, more when you consider the circumstances of his demise. Always, and without fail.
The sight of the lifeless body, a man and middle-aged by the look of it, on the road often made me wonder, has the next-of-kin been told of the accident that befelled him? Or that, does the lifeless body that was him, has a next-of-kin, for that matter? Worse still, do they know how to get in touch his next-of-kin or who they are? Does he have kids and how old are they?
The questions don’t stop rushing in, I must admit. What happened to him, to make him the latest addition to the statistics of Malaysian roads? Was he riding his motorbike fast? Why was he in the extreme right lane? And so on and so on and so on.
So many questions. And they have all remained unanswered. But that doesn’t matter. It has all become academic as the fact remains that the person lying on the road is dead. The how and the why we may never know for sure but what is certain is that the morgue will be busy tonight.
The sight of a body on the road is not new to me, I am sad to say, for I have seen quite a few. More so in the last few years, actually. I had often wondered whether it’s the price that has to be paid for the rapid development happening in Johor Bahru the last few years, with people rushing, for whatever reason under the sun and the moon and the stars, from points A to B to C and so on, day and night, driving their big or souped-up and expensively modified cars and more often than not, without a care for their own safety, what more for the safety of others, weaving in and out of traffic as if they were just images on those racing machines lining the amusement arcades.
Is it the price that has to be paid for revving their motorbikes up and down the coastal road, weaving in and out of traffic as if they were in the Malaysian leg of MotorGP or just riding in a large group, purposely forcing traffic to build up behind them? And all that with mischievous smiles on their faces.
I must admit, after witnessing the antics of these irresponsible drivers and motorcyclists, it is hard to feel sorry for them when they get involved in accidents. Most often than not, they are not the ones who gets the sharp end of these accidents. Rather, it happens that other road users bear the brunt of these accidents and it is grossly unfair and a shame that these ‘collateral damages’ are the road users who abide by the law.
Admittedly, you do feel a semblance of pity for all involved, regardless whether they were or not the cause of it all. But the feeling of pity doesn’t stay long before it gets replaced by a feeling of anger, fast, once the facts of the accident comes out. In most of these cases, the expression ‘serves you right’ would be most apt although it may not in good taste at all, to the ire of those responsible for these accidents.
It used to be the thing for a Saturday night, the shenanigans and antics of these irresponsible road users, be they car drivers or motorcyclists. But nowadays, its fast turning out to be a daily (or is it nightly?) thing, as can be seen by the spectators lining the streets of JB (especially the coastal road leading to and passing by the Bukit Serene Palace).
Talking to some, you could almost sense the patience and restraint of most road users are practically wearing thin. Resigned but very thin, as a matter of fact.
To make matters worse, the latest craze has seen groups of bicyclists getting onto the same roads, some riding bicycles proportion to their build whilst some chose to ride bicycles that they owned since they were 5-year olds. It used to be amusing to watch, like adults riding ponies except that in these case, the ‘ponies’ don’t leave poo on the roads. But over time, they too are fast becoming potential road hazards themselves especially when they don’t put on any protective gear especially at night. And that is definitely not good news.
If that wasn’t bad enough, these irresponsible road users are now being joined by their brethren from across the Causeway, who take to speeding on Malaysian roads like a bird just released from its cage by its owner.
Personally, I hope the police and the authorities get a grip on things before they get totally out of control, and before anarchy rule the streets of Johor Bahru. I mean, those patrol cars do look pretty and all but can they actually chase and stop a speeding car, weaving in and out of traffic BEFORE we have to pick up their bits and pieces from the tarmac and the walls lining the roads?
I mean, the police do have back-ups and surely they do have more than one patrol car on the roads at any one time, don’t they? Surely they can coordinate amongst themselves, can’t they, like they did in those movies of Dato’ Yusof Haslam and Co.?
And as far as I know, the public parking bays on the roads of Johor Bahru are owned and maintained by the JB City Council (MBJB). And they do not get transferred to unlicensed parking attendants after official hours. Or do they?
And if I am right, you are only allowed to park your cars (and motorbikes) at parking bays designated by MBJB. Or has it changed to ‘anywhere you please’?
A double yellow line does still mean ‘no parking’? Or has the traffic code changed overnight without most of us knowing about it?
Since we are at it, when the traffic light is red, it still does mean ‘stop’, right? Regardless, if I am not mistaken, whether you are top of the line Range Rover or that simplest of simplest 2-stroke 2-wheeler ‘kapcai’. Or am I again mistaken?
Whatever it is, please, for God’s sake, please get a grip on things before it gets totally out of control with anarchy reigning, and the law of the jungle prevailing above all else.
When that happens, what then?