Malaysia relaxes its partial lockdown, not many take to trains and buses in Kuala Lumpur

Commuters have their temperature checked at the KL Sentral LRT station on Day One of the conditional movement control order in Kuala Lumpur May 4, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 4, 2020, Malay Mail. As Malaysia enters day one of the conditional movement control order (CMCO) today, Malaysians mostly refrained from commuting using the public rail transport system, Malay Mail reported.

Malay Mail’s observation at several major rail stations in the city centre earlier today saw a significant reduction in both train occupancy and crowds.

At the Maluri Station, an integrated light rapid transit (LRT) and mass rapid transit (MRT) hub, large crowds usually present during morning peak hours were non-existent as many Malaysians chose to either remain home or use other modes of transportation to get around.

According to the station manager, who declined to be named, she said the usual crowds during the morning rush hour today had halved today.

“Our crowds during normal days are usually three times more with people queuing from one end to the other,” she said while pointing towards the barely crowded train platform.

She also said that with Maluri being an interchange station between two rail lines, train occupancy had been reduced by half to accommodate social distancing among passengers.

Cheras police chief Assistant Commissioner Mohamed Mokhsein Mohamed Zon also took the opportunity to visit the Maluri LRT station to monitor enforcement of the CMCO here.

“Everything seems in order and the station has done a good job in ensuring social distancing among the passengers with clear signs on the platform to warn them,” he told Malay Mail briefly when met.

Later, another MRT station manager near the city’s Golden Triangle area, who also declined to be named, said there was as much as an 80 per cent reduction in the crowd plying the station today during the usual 7am-9am peak hours.

“Even on usual days, the queue will extend further behind the ticket turnstile due to the number of people thronging the station but as for today passenger queues are moving albeit at a slower pace,” he said when met here.

Despite a reduced crowd, the station manager said manpower has been doubled at the station, from six to 12.

As for passengers’ compliance, most, if not all, have adhered to instructions and guidelines set by the Health Ministry, the station manager said.

“There are one or two passengers without face masks and we advised them to wear one for their safety, but other than that, everyone has followed instructions,” the station manager added.

Meanwhile, at the KLCC LRT station, Kelana Jaya Line chief operating officer Ismail Abdullah said there was less than 30 per cent in commuter volume, describing it as the new norm in public transportation.

“We are in a time that is not normal and maybe it’s because it’s the first day, so we have to wait as some companies have not started work.

“You can see trains are not full and you can also see that there is social obedience and compliance,” he said, adding that Malaysians in generally understood the risks of infection.

Disciplined and vigilant

On a train ride, Malay Mail noted a strict compliance among passengers, who distanced themselves from one other while station personnel were also on-hand to ensure all guidelines are adhered to.

Fauziah Mat Jaafar, 59, said she feels uneasy having to return to work for the first time today, having worked from home when the movement control order (MCO) took effect in March.

“It’s not to say that I don’t want to go to work, it’s just that I feel a sense of insecurity,” she said while waiting for her train at the KLCC station.

From Maluri to KL Sentral, train coaches were also half-full during peak hours with occupancy constantly monitored at each station by auxiliary police and station personnel.

Every once in a while, a public service announcement reminding passengers to maintain a distance of one metre between one another is broadcasted over the train’s public address system.

Apart from that, the ride was accompanied by an almost eerie silence as the train travelled along its route.

Arriving at KL Sentral, the once-bustling transport hub looked almost deserted with only a handful of commuters.

The only hive of activities centered around the counters manned by auxiliary police personnel near the main lobby where a temperature reading of those passing through are taken.

It was as if the mere police presence at the city’s main transport hub was more prominent, compared to the general public.

While convenience stores located within rail stations are largely open, many eateries chose to remain closed, with the exception of fast-food chains such as McDonald’s and KFC only allowing takeaways.

Under the CMCO, almost all economic sectors and businesses are allowed to reopen from today, subject to strict conditions, following the announcement by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin just three days ago.

This comes a little more than a week before the scheduled end of the fourth phase of the movement MCO on May 12.

Share it

Exclusive: Beyond the Covid-19 world's coverage