CEO says the company strives for impartiality in conducting independent inspections as per the highest international standards guided by CITA
By RAHIMI YUNUS / Pic By RAZAK GHAZALI & TMR File
VEHICLES, much like humans, need regular check-ups.
Preventative healthcare and early detection are becoming commonplace among people who lead a healthy lifestyle. Similarly, a vehicle requires regular check-ups on its roadworthiness and safety.
The mere mention of vehicle inspection brings to mind Puspakom Sdn Bhd, a wholly owned subsidiary of DRB-Hicom Bhd.
The company was incorporated 25 years ago after the government privatised vehicle inspection enforcement, which was previously undertaken by the Road Transport Department (JPJ).
Under the Road Transport Act 1987, all commercial vehicles, like taxis, vans, buses and lorries, are required to undergo routine inspection at Puspakom every six months.
The periodical inspection helps reduce road accidents and safeguard the lives of drivers, passengers and other road users.
Private vehicles, however, are not obligated to go through a routine inspection, but a voluntary vehicle inspection is recommended so that owners know the condition of their vehicles and maintenance requirements.
Other services include transfer of ownership inspection, hire-purchase inspection and vehicle plan verification.
Transfer of ownership inspection aims at protecting the new vehicle owner from buying an unlawful vehicle like a cut-and-joint vehicle. Meanwhile, hire-purchase inspection keeps used vehicle buyers from buying an illegal or unroadworthy unit.
Puspakom CEO Mohammed Shukor Ismail told The Malaysian Reserve in an interview that when users bring their vehicles in for an independent inspection, the company strives for impartiality, which is very important in vehicle inspection, adding that the inspection at Puspakom follows the highest standards guided by International Motor Vehicle Inspection Committee (CITA).
CITA is an international body that provides recommendations to the member countries’ authorities on relevant vehicle inspection regulations and procedures. CITA is part of the United Nations (UN) Road Safety Collaboration and has a consultative status in the UN Economic and Social Council.
Mohammed Shukor said Puspakom has embarked on a digitalisation initiative to deliver service excellence and the best customer experience.
Customer Convenience is Everything
In 1994, when Puspakom started, the company had only 16 inspection centres. Some of the centres were shared with the JPJ and some were established by the company within its first year of operation.
The country’s first and only comprehensive national vehicle inspection company has grown by leaps and bounds since then.
Today, it boasts an extensive network of 55 full-fledged inspection centres nationwide, 34 mobile inspection units and over 30 visiting sites to provide mandatory inspection services for commercial and private vehicles, including in rural areas in East Malaysia.
Mohammed Shukor said Puspakom initiated its digitalisation agenda six years ago. The focus is on enhancing the integration between inspection equipment and computerised system.
The technology has augmented the automation of equipment and enabled test results to be seamlessly linked to JPJ’s system.
“Our digitalisation efforts centre on customer convenience, operational excellence and monitoring and control,” he said.
In 2017, Puspakom introduced MyPuspakom — the company’s online reservation and payment system — to improve customer convenience in making appointments and simultaneously increasing efficiencies at its inspection centres.
Customers can book a vehicle inspection online and this promotes cashless transactions and helps lessen the reliance of the public on third parties or touts.
The hassle-free application has alleviated the bottleneck at the inspection centres as road users can now better plan their visit to Puspakom and spread out the demand across the operational hours.
There are about 120 inspection points of up to 12 major items which include tests on the brake, side slip, suspension, tinted glass, above carriage and undercarriage.
Puspakom also ensures vehicle owners comply with the regulations on preserving the environment via the emission test.
Mohammed Shukor said Puspakom can complete an inspection in less than one hour, depending on the type of vehicle. A taxi inspection, for instance, could be done in less than 30 minutes.
Puspakom also introduced its mobile inspection service that comes right to the customers’ doorsteps, with a strong fleet of 34 mobile inspection units. This service is catered to less populated or rural areas, and large companies with a fleet of commercial vehicles.
Moving forward, Mohammed Shukor said the company aspires to transform its inspection centres into one-stop centres for vehicle- related services such as road tax renewal, which can be done at Puspakom by early next year following JPJ’s approval.
Besides car inspection, consumers can also buy vehicle insurance at any Puspakom centres.
Certain quarters have claimed vehicle inspection services in Malaysia is being monopolised.
Mohammed Shukor insisted that Puspakom does not hold possession or control of the services, which could be deemed as a monopoly under the Competition Act 2010.
He said Puspakom does not command any dominant status, particularly because it cannot decide on the vehicle inspection fees and thus the element of “abuse”, if any, is absent.
As it is, he said the inspection fees have not been revised by the government since the last 12 years.
“It is more like a tariff, government-gazetted fees,” he added. The vehicle inspection fees at Puspakom ranges from as low as RM20 to RM90, based on the types of vehicles.
“We cannot determine the fees nor the locations of the services. For instance, we simply cannot hike the fees in tandem with demand or choose not to provide the services in areas that are less economically viable to us. We must provide accessibility,” Mohammed Shukor said.
He added that Puspakom provides vehicle inspection services to fulfil a national obligation as mandated by the law and assist the government in providing vehicle inspection services and infrastructure in the country. “Our existence is not on a commercial basis,” he said.
Puspakom performs over three million vehicle inspections for commercial and private vehicles every year, including voluntary vehicle inspections.
The company has invested close to half a billion ringgit in equipment, infrastructure and technology over the past 25 years to deliver independent vehicle inspection services for the nation.
This year, Puspakom celebrates its silver jubilee of inspecting vehicles’ roadworthiness and operations.
As the transportation technology is evolving towards electric vehicles, as well as cleaner and connected mobility, Mohammed Shukor said Puspakom is in the best position to advance and rise to meet new challenges ahead to deliver premier vehicle inspection services in the country.
Twenty-five years on, Puspakom stands committed to carrying out its vehicle inspection responsibility to the highest standards.