Traffic to surge this weekend in ‘balik kampung’ rush


TRAFFIC on major highways is expected to surge this weekend as people travel back to their home states following the partial easing of lockdown measures under the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO).

The police force is anticipating an increase in road traffic across the country from Friday until Sunday (June 12-14) as families regroup to celebrate the month-long Hari Raya festivity.

Under the Conditional MCO, which was lifted on Tuesday, only gatherings of up to 20 immediate family members were permitted on the first day of Hari Raya while the ban on interstate travel remained.

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob in his daily press conference yesterday reminded the public to adhere to social distancing rules and safety guidelines that continue to be in place as stated in the latest federal gazette.

The law change published on Tuesday prohibits any activities with many people in attendance which make it difficult to carry out social distancing measures and comply with the directions of the Health DG.

Failure to conform could lead to a fine of up to RM1,000 or imprisonment of not more than six months.

“I would also like to remind the public to be careful when driving. The higher the number of traffic, the higher the chances are of unwanted incidents on the road.

“As it stands, the police have already recorded an increase in the number of road accidents,” Ismail Sabri said.

Interstate travel, which was banned from March 18 till Tuesday, is now permitted under the RMCO. Following the lifting of the restriction, dining areas and public facilities at rest and service areas can now be reopened.

PLUS Malaysia Bhd, the country’s largest highway operator, is expecting traffic volume to rise by up to 15% daily. The company said it has sanitised its toll plazas and rest areas for public use.

Most food stalls are expected to be operational from June 15, while prayer facilities are still closed until further notice, its MD Datuk Azman Ismail said.

Public restrooms are opened but will have social distancing pointers.

With the removal of interstate roadblocks which were common throughout the MCO, the police and armed forces will now shift their focus towards ensuring smooth traffic flow and adherence to health guidelines at business premises.

“As citizens, we must play our role to ensure the pandemic does not spread again. The relaxation does not mean we are free to do as we please and return to life before the MCO,” Ismail Sabri said.

The RMCO was announced as daily cases fell to a single digit on June 8 — the lowest in three months, with only two deaths reported for more than two weeks. The RMCO is effective from June 10 until Aug 31.