KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 — Senior Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob asserted today that the operator of Rapid KL trains did not get permission from the government to end social distancing rules.
Rapid Rail — which operates the LRT networks, the KL Monorail, and MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang line — said in a statement earlier today that it was lifting social distancing rules in its trains and stations from tomorrow during the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO), in line with the Transport Ministry permitting 100 per cent capacity for all rail services, except for the ETS and KTM Intercity services.
“Rapid Rail doesn’t have the authority to change any policy or rules set by the government. When the government sets social distancing rules in whichever rail service, they cannot simply change what was set by the government,” Ismail Sabri told a press conference, when asked about Rapid Rail’s decision.
He acknowledged that social distancing requirements have caused losses not just to train operators from reduced passenger loads, but also to airlines that are only allowed 66 per cent capacity, but assured businesses that the government was discussing the matter.
“However, they can’t simply make their own decisions without referring to the government because this is wrong. This was not done with our approval, or approval from the special ministers’ meeting or special NSC (National Security Council) meeting. We did not make a decision on this.”
Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong has yet to reply to CodeBlue’s queries for clarification at the time of writing.
According to NSC’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the Transport Ministry dated June 4, the only safe distancing rule for rail services is to mark seats to ensure 1-metre distance or alternate seats, as well as 1-metre distance between passengers waiting at the premises. No guidelines were mentioned for passengers standing in trains.
The RMCO, which allows interstate travel and most businesses to resume amid a drop of new Covid-19 cases in the country, has been scheduled from tomorrow until August 31.