GEORGE TOWN: Illegal school bus operators are expected to thrive in the new school term because many drivers had quit during the different phases of the movement control order, says a school bus operators group.

Federation of Malaysian School Bus Operators Association president Amali Munif Rahmat said an estimated 6,000 school bus drivers out of the registered 16,000 were expected to return to work when schools reopened.

“Many drivers, especially those in the rural areas, went into other businesses or switched to food delivery operations when schools were closed during the MCO period.

“As a result, illegal bus operators are expected to fill in at the areas where there are no school bus operators, and this will put the lives of schoolchildren at risk.

“Furthermore, all our members are fully vaccinated but we are not sure if these illegal operators are vaccinated,” he said.

Amali also said most operators who are association members would only be providing their service to “loyal customers”.

He added that some of the customers who had used their services before this had chosen to discontinue the service, citing safety issues.

The new school session began on Sunday for Group A schools (Johor, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu), and Monday for Group B schools (those that observe Sunday as the weekend).