Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Clear skies expected over Raya

Clear skies expected over Raya

It will likely be a sunny Hari Raya Aidilfitri this year in most parts of Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak.

The date for sighting the Syawal new moon to determine when Aidilfitri falls has been set for June 24, and many expect Hari Raya to start the next day.

Malaysian Meteorological De­­part­­ment director-general Alui Bahari said a detailed forecast for the Hari Raya Aidilfitri period will only be released today but added that the weather is generally expected to be dry due to the current south-west monsoon.

The south-west monsoon started on May 17, and will continue until September, typically associated with lower rainfall in Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak.

“There is always heavy traffic on the highways during the Raya pe­­riod, but good weather conditions will hopefully help to make journeys safer as the roads are dry and visibility is better,” said Alui.

The volume of vehicles that will hit the roads starting this week as families make their way back to their hometowns is expected to grow.

PLUS Malaysia Bhd said traffic plying the North-South Expressway during peak days starting Wednes­day to July 3 is set to hit 1.7 million vehicles per day.

The figure is an increase of 30% from the reported 1.2 million vehicles during the Raya peak period two years ago.

Another highway concessionaire, Lingkaran Trans Kota Sdn Bhd (Litrak), expects a 10% increase in the number of vehicles on the Sprint and Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP) highways in Selangor as the Hari Raya celebration draws closer.

The LDP, which is normally used by more than 470,000 vehicles each week, may see an increase of about 10,000 vehicles this week.

Association of Highway Con­cessionaires Malaysia said in a statement that the volume of traffic is expected to increase by between 30% and 40% during the coming Raya period compared to normal times.

“The Kuala Lumpur-Karak Express­­way, East Coast Expressway (LPT1) and East Coast Highway 2 (LPT2) is expected to see an increase of 50% in traffic volume,” the statement said.

To cope with the traffic volume, PLUS has issued a travel time advisory to help the public plan their journey and to distribute traffic between June 21 and July 3.

Those planning to travel from the Klang Valley to their hometowns in Perlis, Kedah, Penang, northern Perak and Johor are advised to enter the highway before 10am.

Those heading towards nearer destinations such as in Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Melaka, southern Perak and central Perak, are advised to start their journey and enter the North-South Expressway after 10am on designated days.

Meanwhile, Penang is expecting an influx of visitors who are set to take advantage of the four-day Aidilfitri holiday.

“Last year, the traffic was not so bad, but it is too early to predict the congestion this year,” said state traffic police enforcement chief Supt Roslan Ali.

He added that traffic police would be out daily under Ops Selamat from now until July 2.

Malaysian Hoteliers Association Penang Chapter chairman Khoo Boo Lim said most hotels in the state were almost full.

“Penang is a top choice for local tourists and many are definitely coming here during the break,” he added.

~News courtesy of The Star~

Thursday, June 15, 2017

DPM: Tourism tax will be imposed

DPM: Tourism tax will be imposed

The Government is going ahead with its tourism tax to be imposed from July 1.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who disclosed this yesterday, said more funds were needed to support tourism promotion activities.

“At present, some states receive little (funds), some get more,” he said. Under the new tax, hotel guests will be charged between RM2.50 and RM20 for every night’s stay, depending on the classification of the hotel.

Dr Ahmad Zahid disclosed that the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday directed that the tourism tax spat involving Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz and the Sarawak and Sabah governments be put to an end.

“The Prime Minister chaired the Cabinet meeting and I have personally met with the Chief Ministers of Sarawak and Sabah.

“So the chapter is closed,’’ he told reporters after closing an Islamic education workshop here yesterday.

Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah had called on the Government to defer the implementation of the tourism tax in Sarawak and Sabah. This invited criticism from Nazri.

Dr Ahmad Zahid also said RM10mil will be given to the Advisory Board for the Coordination of Islamic Education for the enhancement of Islamic educational institutions.

The workshop approved several resolutions, including one on a special mechanism to strengthen Federal-state cooperation in Islamic educational development.

~News courtesy of The Star~

More trains and buses for Raya

More trains and buses for Raya

The Transport Ministry hopes to add more trains and express buses to serve the balik kampung crowds during the coming festive season.

Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said he had already directed KTM Berhad to increase its services for the period.

“Most of the demand is from Kuala Lumpur to the northern states. So, they will be providing 27 trips daily to the northern states, some up to Padang Besar.

“There is a limit to how much we can increase for the time being, however, because we do not have enough train coaches,” he told reporters after launching the Hari Raya integrated operations and road safety campaign here yesterday.

The ministry, said Liow, was also working with express bus operators to try and increase the number of buses during the Hari Raya period.

However, he said there was a lack of bus drivers due to more stringent selection criteria.

Promoting safe trips: Liow talking to a passenger after launching the Hari Raya integrated operations and road safety campaign.

“(For some routes) we will need two drivers to take turns because of the long distance.

“These are among the shortcomings we have during the Raya season but we will work towards overcoming them,” he said.

On the road accident statistics for last year, Liow said the numbers had increased, especially for fatalities.

“Last year, we had 521,466 road accidents compared to 489,606 previously.

“The number of fatalities from road accidents showed a sudden increase – going up to 7,152 deaths last year compared to 6,706 in 2015.

“During the two-week road safety campaign last year, police recorded 20,982 accidents, with 299 deaths,” he said.

As over 60% of the fatalities involved motorcyclists, Liow said this year’s campaign would focus on raising awareness among this group of road users.

“None of these statistics mean that the previous campaign have failed. If you look at the ratio of accidents to registered vehicles, that has actually gone down.

“We went from four deaths for every 10,000 vehicles in 2010 to 2.59 deaths for every 10,000 vehicles last year.

“In developed countries, the ratio is two deaths for every 10,000 vehicles and we aim to reach this by 2020,” he said.

This year's road safety campaign, with the theme “Pandu Cermat Sampai Selamat” will run for two weeks and includes advocacy as well as enforcement of road safety rules and regulations.

~News courtesy of The Star~