Thu, 06 Jan 2000

Free ride for streets vendors

TANGERANG (JP): Some 2,000 street traders working in several areas of Tangerang packed on Monday into 32 buses bound for their respective hometowns in Java to celebrate the upcoming Idul Fitri festivities.

Unlike hundreds of thousands of other seasonal travelers who have to struggle to get a seat, the traders did not even have to spend any money for the trip, as the buses were paid for in full by PT Alfa Retailindo, the trading arm of the Sampoerna Group.

Since last week, terminals in the capital have been crowded with people queuing for intercity buses to take them home for the Idul Fitri celebrations.

Alfa Retailindo's president Joko Susanto officially saw off the convoy from the Alfa superstore in Cikokol, and said the free trip for the street vendors was meant to thank them for helping the firm sell its goods.

"Hopefully, the number of traders joining this scheme will be much greater next year," Joko said, adding that the service was the first one ever held by the company.

Twelve of the buses left for Cirebon and eight for Kuningan, both in West Java; seven for Yogyakarta and Solo in Central Java; and five others for Tegal and Semarang, also in Central Java.

Besides the free trip, the 10-year-old retail company, which currently manages 20 discount stores in 14 cities and eight wholesale stores across the country, also handed over Idul Fitri gifts of kopiah (Muslim prayer caps), sarongs and cakes.

Sumarso, 39, a vendor in the Kebon Nanas area, highly appreciated such an unexpected gift.

"The money which I would have spent for the bus fare can be used for other things," he said happily.

Kusnadi, 27, who vends at Cimone bus terminal, said, "I hope that this kind of free service can be given to us every Idul Fitri holiday." (41/bsr)