JPJ finally gets tontos off its back

Posted on: 2016-10-13

PUTRAJAYA: The tontos haunting the Road Transport Department (JPJ) have been tamed – and that is now being reflected in the staggering monthly average of about 8,000 summonses against lorry operators for overloading.

At the height of the tonto menace, JPJ could only issue an average 1,455 summonses a month.

The JPJ’s success story comes after a dramatic swoop – including from the sky – against the tontos that took place along the Kesas Highway on April 26.

During the Ops Cantas Khas Tonto – a joint operation by JPJ and the police – 15 “masterminds” of the tonto syndicates were arrested and charged under the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca).

The special operation came after three months of planning and intelligence by the two agencies, which is part of the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS).

JPJ enforcement director Datuk V. Valluvan Velloo said lorry operators had now become more com­pliant with the road rules.

Still, an average 7,573 summon­ses were issued for overloading between May and September, he said.

Tontos are a group of informers engaged by operators of illegal lorries who monitor the movement of enforcement officers and tip off the lorry operators whenever there is a raid or roadblock.

The tontos often use intimidation tactics and are not afraid to attack the officers.

There have been previous cases of JPJ cars being hit and even burned by the tontos.

Valluvan said thousands of lorries, protected by the syndicates, were unlicensed and did not pay road tax, which cost the Government around RM12mil a year.

He said this was the “first time in history” where tontos were charged under Poca.

Valluvan said the willingness of the police to form a special taskforce and Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar’s green light to use Poca to nab the masterminds helped tremendously.

“Once the tontos were nabbed, the structure of the tonto syndicate was gone,” he said.

Previously, Valluvan said that when­ever a vehicle with a team of three or four JPJ enforcement officers left the office, five vehicles with tontos would tailgate them.

“Even if the officers go for prayers or to eat, the tontos would sit at the opposite table with their walkie talkies, trying to send a message that they are watching us.

“We have lodged so many police reports because tontos have physically attacked and threatened to kill our officers,” he said, adding that almost every JPJ enforcement officer had been intimidated by tontos.

Valluvan said that although JPJ had the power to arrest, stop or detain anyone under Section 112 of the Road Transport Act 1987, its officers could only do so if the person did not cooperate with the department.

“So, if we ask you for your licence and you don’t give it, then we have the power to arrest you,” Valluvan said.

“In the case of tontos, they will cooperate but will not allow us to do our work.

“This is under the Criminal Procedure Code, so the police have to step in.”

Valluvan related an example of how lorry drivers refused to wind down the window or step out of the vehicle when stopped by JPJ officers until the tontos arrived at the scene.
“Only then will the lorry driver hand the licence to the tonto and the latter will then hand it over to the officer,” he said.

He said the special task force to eradicate the tonto menace which comprises JPJ’s special action team and the police’s D7 secret societies unit, continued to monitor the si­­tua­­tion.

Valluvan added that there were still some groups of people who passed information to lorry operators.

“These people are different, they are not thugs, unlike tontos. We know how to handle these people,” he said.

With the tonto syndicates crippled, Valluvan said his officers could now carry out their duties without intimidation.


Source From: The Star

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