BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN –  In a bid to curb unemployment, the Land Transport Department (LTD) said it aims to groom more Bruneians to become bus drivers.

Last month, the LTD disclosed its plans to revamp the public transport system by integrating ICT infrastructure, therefore improving the timing and reliability of public buses.

To attract more locals to work in the sector, the department said it will also be “rebranding” the bus driver position — to be known as “bus captains” in the future — to include higher wages and career progression opportunities.

Acting Director of LTD, Pg Mohd Amirizzal Pg Hj Mahmud, told The Scoop that they are working on a localisation programme with the Manpower Policy and Planning Unit (MPPU), to establish a bus captain course which will be facilitated by the Centre of Capacity Building (PPK).

“We are working together with the MPPU on the supply of local bus captains, where locals will be trained under the PPK for two months. Upon completion they will receive a conditional offer of employment and commence working with bus operators,” he said.

“Currently, we can say that 99 percent of public bus drivers are foreigners, we want to change that to provide more employment opportunities for our local jobseekers.”

For new bus operators, it will be mandatory by their fourth year of operation to have a workforce comprising at least 20 percent locals from the bus captain course.

The LTD is hoping that eventually 100 percent of bus operators’ workforce will comprise of local bus captains trained under the PPK.

Bus captain salaries will start at $750 — compared to the current wage range of $450 to $1,200 — and based on their performance and number of hours logged, they will also be given the opportunity to climb up the ranks to logistics manager, where wages are capped at $2,300.

Pg Mohd Amirizzal said the new salary scheme will apply to all bus captains employed in the future, adding that the department does not prohibit new bus operators from hiring locals who have not been trained under PPK’s bus captain course.

He said that the programme will start once all land transport initiatives have been “activated”, with the department still in discussions with the relevant stakeholders.