Monday, September 28, 2009


Jakarta, Sept. 28, 2009  (ANTARA) - For most Indonesian Muslims, Idul Fitri (`Lebaran`) is an annual moment of family gatherings and therefore this year, over 27 million people were willing to spend considerable amounts of energy, time and money to return to their home towns.

The exodus on such a large scale happening at almost the same time was far from easy to manage and, as always, claimed many lives and caused substantial material damages.

Transportation Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal said in Solo, Central Java, recently that of the total number of around 27.25 million travelers, 11 million used their own means of transportation, mostly motorcycles and cars.

The number of air passengers was at least 1,180, and those going by sea reached 103,000 or twice the number last year, the minister said. Many others preferred to use trains.

The death toll in the total of 1,544 traffic accidents during the 2009 Idul Fitri holiday season reached 576 people, according to the minister on the sidelines of the inauguration of the tourism Train Operation "Kluthuk Jaladara" last Sunday (Sept. 27).

The accidents over the past 14 days, also caused 637 people to sustain serious and 1,397 others light injuries, the minister said.

"Some 70 percent of the accidents, was due to drowsiness and fatigue of the motorists," he said.

The minister said, this year`s public and private holiday transportation was relatively better, safer and smoother. However, the minister said, traffic accidents during the Lebaran festivities still need to be a concern in taking safety and security measures for future Idul Fitri holidays.

The death toll in traffic accidents during the Idul Fitri holidays reached 798 in 2007, it decreased to 548 during the Idul Fitri holiday season from September 25 to October 7, 2008, according to police data collected by ANTARA.

Some electronic media reported that many of the accidents this year were caused by poorly maintained roads and undisciplined drivers.

Police data, meanwhile, showed that during the two-week holiday period following the end of this year`s Ramadan fasting month, some 596 people were killed in traffic accidents across the country.

Sergeant Wahyono of the central traffic information service said Sunday, as quoted by AP, that 1,545 accidents were reported during the holiday season.

Metro TV news reported that of the total number of accidents, more than 1,300 had involved motorcycles, which represents a drastic increase over the figures of the past few years in the country.

More and more Indonesians preferred to use motorcycles, in order to go through severe traffic congestions on roads such as those in Jakarta.

Besides, motorcycles are quite affordable, and even with only around Rp500,000 (about US$50) as a down payment, one can take home a motorcycle from a showroom with the rest of the vehicle`s price paid in monthly installments.

"My husband leaves his car at home and uses a motorcycle to go to the office. By motorcycle, he arrives at home at about 6 pm, but if he drives a car, he will be home at around 8 pm at the earliest," Evy, a housewife living in Pondok Gede, said.

One motorcycle with three or four passengers, usually consisting of a husband, wife and two children, are a common sight on Indonesia`s roads. And amazingly, they often brave the traffic congestions at the risk of their own, their wives` and children`s lives.

According to the police data, East Java Province recorded the largest number of traffic accidents during this year`s Idul Fitri holiday season.

As many as 77 people died and 109 were injured in traffic accidents in East Java as per the seventh day after Idul Fitri.

East Java Police operations division head, Sr. Comr. Abdul Madjid Tawil, said lack of discipline on the roads and human error were the causes of most deaths and injuries in accidents involving motorcycles, public buses and private cars, the Jakarta Post reported.

In one accident on September 24, 2009, a family of six was killed in a collision in East Java province when a minivan hit an intercity bus.

Central Java Police Chief Insp. Gen. Alex Bambang Riatmodjo announced that the number of fatalities in Central Java reached 47 people in 167 accidents in the past 13 days.

Last September 26, 2009, there was an accident between a sedan and minivan in Tengguli village, Tanjung district, Brebes regency, Central Java, killing six of the sedan passengers.

Meanwhile, haze was the main enemy for drivers in Kalimantan and Sumatra and the haze coming from forest and peat soil fires, blanketed roads and worsened driving conditions.

"We have to be careful due to the haze because it could cause accidents," said Djoko, a bus driver in Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan, recently.

Haze had also covered several cities in Sumatra Island, especially Jambi city, last week. Remus L. Tobing, head of the Jambi office of the Meteorology and Geophysical Agency (BMG), said the thick morning haze several days ago had disrupted flight activity and even forced Sultan Thaha Syarifuddin Airport in Jambi to be closed for a couple of hours twice because visibility had decreased to less than 1,000 meters.

Tobing said winds moving from the southeast to the northwest had brought haze from Riau and Bengkulu, and especially from South Sumatra, to Jambi.

The safety of Idul Fitri holiday makers on their home-bound trips in all parts of the country was a main concern of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who discussed it in a cabinet meeting early this month, prior to Idul Fitri.

The president when speaking at the cabinet meeting at his office asked state transportation agencies to give the best possible service to Idul Fitri holiday travelers.

For that purpose, the National Police have carried out "Operation Ketupat" throughout the country in order to provide services and security to the public celebrating Idul Fitri, from seven days before to seven days after Idul Fitri.

Inspector General SY Wenas, a national police deputy chief, said recently in Jakarta that at least 113,000 police officers were mobilized in Operation Ketupat 2009 all over Indonesia.


(T.F001/A/F001/A/A014) 28-09-2009 18:14:59

No comments:

Post a Comment