End of Puspakom monopoly – will this lead to Malaysia adopting compulsory roadworthiness test like the UK?

It was announced last week that Puspakom will no longer be the only agency providing vehicle inspection services from next year, when the company’s current concession comes to an end on August 31, 2024. While its concession will be renewed, it will no longer have a monopoly in the segment

Depending on how many competitors emerge in the future, this should open up the road in offering motorists more options to do car inspections. The move to increase the playing field also finally opens up the possibility of having compulsory periodic roadworthiness tests like the UK’s MoT.

Malaysia does have something along those lines, in the form of the Voluntary Vehicle Inspection (VVI) programme, although as its moniker suggests, there is nothing compulsory about it. Introduced as part of the original outline of the National Automotive Policy (NAP 2014), the programme was very much an early lead towards making roadworthiness tests a prerequisite somewhere down the road.

End of Puspakom monopoly – will this lead to Malaysia adopting compulsory roadworthiness test like the UK?

Puspakom VVI test points.

Applicable to cars over the age of five years when it was first mooted, it did come to light and still exists, available via Puspakom, although take-up of this is very much left to those wanting a 25-point check-up for their vehicle when free campaigns pop up, and having the patience to go through with it – I haven’t heard of anyone making an appointment to have their vehicle inspected voluntarily away from when there is a campaign pushing it.

It was also stated then that inspection centres would not be limited to any one agency or company like Puspakom, crucial for such a scheme to work, given the limitations of having only one player handling it. To put it simply, it being only available through Puspakom would have created a bottleneck if it were to be implemented as mandatory.

The government’s decision to open up the business to multiple service providers makes the concept of working towards compulsory periodic roadworthiness tests a reality, although it would still take a good while for this to happen. Frequency, points of inspection and costs are things that will need to be determined.

End of Puspakom monopoly – will this lead to Malaysia adopting compulsory roadworthiness test like the UK?

UK MoT test inspection points.

In the UK MoT test, a number of items on a vehicle are inspected to determined that they meet the legal standards. These range from body/vehicle structure, doors, mirrors, brakes and lights to tyres/wheels, steering and suspension as well as seats/seat belts, windscreen and even the horn. The present 25-point VVI test we have here is very similar in terms of inspection scope.

In the UK, all cars over three years old are required to do scheduled MoT tests to ensure they remain roadworthy. If anything is wrong, it needs to be rectified first before the car can be taxed and driven on the road.

However, it is pertinent to note that in the UK, even small workshops are licenced and authorised to perform MOT tests and issue certificates, making the process fast and easy. The latest info here suggests new players cannot be regular workshops and will need to run a similar setup as Puspakom, so we’ll see how this develops.

If periodic inspections do eventually become a thing in Malaysia, the roads will be a safer place. By extension, the system can be used as a more reliable gauge for older cars being roadworthy or not, instead of the over-simplified, vague End of Life policy that would deem any car over 20 years as due for scrap.

Older cars, if maintained well – and proven by the periodic inspections – can still be considered roadworthy under such a scheme. It will however almost certainly incur extra costs, which is likely to not sit well with motorists. This is something that will need to be considered by the government.

What do you think of the possibility of Malaysia having compulsory vehicle roadworthiness inspections? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.

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