Monday, 4 February 2008


I start my work day early, leaving my house not long after morning prayers. This will also ensure that I catch the early morning commuters, some going to the markets and others heading for work.

Over the years, I've learnt how to rush to get the commuters. The more passengers I take, the more money I take home after paying for the bus' rental. I don't care what happens to the other buses, nor other road users. When I see a commuter, I will definitely cut into the lane closest and pick the passenger up, for the sooner I pack my bus full, the sooner I can speed to the end destination and the more money I make. I can then have a longer break before I have to drive out again. Driving is just like what we do in the kampung or "village". We cross the road whenever we want to. We can walk any which way we want to.

Since I was a little boy, I've learnt to fend for myself. Even if it means bullying others, I want to be able to eat and feed my family. One can only live if one can think that way. Who cares about the others in this world.

Besides rental for the bus, I also have to pay my manager so he will help me get a good bus and a route which makes more money. The police don't stop us much as they know we're poor people trying to make a living, just like them. They much prefer to stop the private cars, especially the luxurious one, as they can get more money out of them. I've ran past red lights many times even with police standing at the junction. But they will pretend not to see me.

In our line of work, getting enough passengers is the most important. Even if we have to stop and pack ourselves three lanes wide, we have to do that at busy junctions where a lot of passengers will need to get onto buses on our route. We don't care about the other road users even if they blast their horns. We all feel that its our right to make a living and to use the roads whichever way we have to. Anyhow, its our government who built the roads for us all to use, so why should we let others use more of the road.

Our biggest fear is robbery, especially at night when we have to drive through quiet neighbourhoods with no law and order. The premans or "gangster" will board our buses and rob not just our commuters but also all our day's takings. We can't report to our managers for they won't believe us. Reporting to the police is pointless too, for they won't be able to catch those gangsters to get our money back, and it will cost me more money plus hours of waiting time just to make that report.

Taxes? We don't care about taxes. I see billboards everywhere asking us to get our tax numbers and pay taxes. But little poor people like us don't care. Why should we pay taxes? Taxes are only for the bosses and the companies which make money from us. Besides, taxes will only make the government officials richer as they have more money to pilfer from. What will the government do for us, little people, even if we pay taxes? Are the roads going to be better? Are our homes safer from flooding? Will we have more electricity and clean water? Will my children be able to get free education?

I, and all my fellow bus drivers, don't think so.

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