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Homeward-bound travelers urged to take safety-first approach

16th August 2012 | 1.467 Views
Homeward-bound travelers urged to take safety-first approach
Homeward-bound travellers using motorbikes at Gilimanuk, Bali, Thursday.(FOTO ANTARA/Nyoman Budhiana)
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The police have placing ads along the highways, which read "Give Priority to Safety: Your Family Is Waiting For You at Home", to remind motorbikers and car drivers to drive carefully and abide by the traffic regulations.

The ads campaign is very relevant given the fact that Indonesia`s roads are prone to traffic accidents due to reckless drivers and traffic congestion.

A foreigner once described his experience of driving in Jakarta as being "like a whale surrounded by many small fishes". Millions of people in Jakarta use motorcycles because the public transportation facility in the capital city is very poor, which leads to frequent traffic jam.

Indonesian Muslims will celebrate Id-ul-Fitr on August 19 and 20 after ending their month-long fast of Ramadan. They usually return to their home towns to celebrate Id-ul-Fitr, which results in the nation's highways getting extremely busy.

Usually, seven days before Id-ul-Fitr, Indonesian travellers begin their journey home. Last year, there were around 15 million homeward-bound travellers, including 3.3 million motorcyclists. This year, the number is expected to increase by around 12 percent.

National Police Chief General Timur Pradopo has predicted that the number of homeward-bound travellers using motorbikes this year will be between 750,000 and 1 million.

"Concentration of traffic is expected in West Java Barat, Central Java, East Java and Sumatra, particularly in South Sumatra and Lampung," Pradopo said after a cabinet meeting at the presidential office recently.

Pradopo stated that police personnel would step up their monitoring efforts from the posts set up to ensure security during the Id-ul-Fitr exodus. "A special task force has also been formed to provide security services to Id-ul-Fitr travellers," he noted.

"The security services, which will be available for the next 16 days, have already started," Pradopo added.

Earlier, when launching "Ketupat Operation for Id-ul-Fitr 2012" last week, the police chief pointed out that around 70 percent of traffic accidents every year involved motorbikes.

To ensure security during the Id-ul-Fitr festivities, starting August 11 through August 26, a joint team comprising 88,000 military and police personnel has been deployed throughout Indonesia.

In Merak harbour, Banten Province, alone, PT ASDP Indonesia Ferry operator has predicted that at least 15,000 travellers will use motorbikes to cross over to Sumatra from Merak aboard ferries.

"The number of motorbikers in 2011 was 13,000," the General Manager of PT ASDP Merak, Supriyanto, said in Merak recently.

He added that PT ASDP Merak had set up special counters for motorbikers to prevent traffic jams. Supriyanto, however, urged homeward-bound travellers to not use motorbikes if they were bringing along children and luggage.

"Riding a motorbike is risky, particularly when the biker is tired and road conditions are bad," he noted.

Traffic Police Chief Inspector General Puji Hartanto said many homeward-bound travellers preferred using motorcycles because it was less expensive. "However, travelling on motorcycles makes you vulnerable to traffic accidents because motorbikes are not designed for long trips," he added.

During the first three days of the exodus (August 11-13), 989 traffic accidents were recorded, which claimed 173 lives in Indonesia. According to police data, there were 1,239 traffic accidents, with 203 casualties, during the same period in 2011.

Most of the victims who died were motorcyclists who had taken alternative routes, with which they were not familiar, on Java Island.

Deputy National Police Chief Commissioner General Nanan Sukarna, when inspecting the homeward-bound routes in Cikopo, Purwakarta, West Java, on Tuesday, appealed to travellers, particularly motorbikers, to abide by the traffic regulations and give priority to safety.

Children`s safety is also a major concern during the exodus. The Task Force for Children's Protection (Satgas PA) recently urged travellers to focus on the safety, security and comfort of children during their journey home.

The task force, comprising representatives from the Social Affairs Ministry and a number of NGOs concerned with children`s affairs, has launched a campaign on children-friendly homeward-bound travelling.

According to 2011 data from the National Police Traffic Management Centre, during the Id-ul-Fitr rush, there were a total of 2,770 accidents, in which 449 people died, 760 got injured, and 1,914 others sustained minor injuries.

"The safety and comfort of children must be given priority, particularly by motorcyclists," the task force`s coordinator, M Ihsan, said in Jakarta on August 7.

"We call on motorcyclists not to carry more than one child and to stop over for resting regularly, especially when they are sleepy and tired. Don`t exert yourselves," Ihsan added.

The task force has also set up children-friendly command posts, providing beverages, rest areas, free-medical checkups, and entertainment facilities for children.

Other homeward-bound travellers using public transportation, such as buses, trains, aeroplanes and ships (or ferries), have also been urged to pay attention to and protect their children from undesirable circumstances.

"The government must also provide facilities and support to children and families in order to reduce the number of accidents," Ihsan stated.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has also instructed institutions to step up services and security for homeward-bound travellers during the holiday season.

"The Lebaran holiday exodus takes place every year and we have the experience to provide security for travellers, but we should not consider it as a routine activity," he said during a cabinet meeting at his office on Monday.

"Circumstances during the event change every year, so we cannot make these services regular," the President added.

"Extra attention must be paid to travellers using motorbikes in order to ensure their safety," Yudhoyono stated.

In order to minimize traffic accidents, Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar recently called on companies to provide buses for their workers and families to travel to their home towns for Id-ul-Fitr holidays.

"I have urged governors, district heads and mayors to ask companies in their regions to organize homeward-bound journeys for their workers and families," he said in Jakarta recently.

Iskandar also asked the regional heads to set up posts to assist the travellers during the Id-ul- Fitr exodus.

"God willing, it will increase the workers` productivity and create harmonious industrial relations. The government will appreciate it if companies organize such journeys," he stated.

A number of private and state-owned companies, as well as political parties, have responded to the appeal. The Democratic Party founded by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, for instance, has provided 109 buses to transport 6,300 travellers free of cost from Jakarta to cities in Java and Sumatra Islands.

In last week`s cabinet meeting, the head of state discussed security, road infrastructure, fuel supply and health services facilities available for holiday travellers.

Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi reported that her ministry had deployed about 65,000 paramedics and set up 1,468 health posts.

She stated that all health-care centres would be located along the routes used by Id-ul-Fitr travellers and would remain open 24 hours a day.

The ministry also distributed 200 packages of medicines among the health-care posts situated along national highways, as well as near the departure and arrival gates of seaports.

It has set up around 1,296 health posts, 578 field health posts, 718 community health posts, 172 KKP health posts, and 1,554 hospitals in Sumatra, Java, and Bali, which will be on standby during the exodus.(*)