Tue, 04 Jan 2000

Government weighs taking errant bus firms off the road

JAKARTA (JP): Police are questioning officials from six bus companies for allegedly violating the maximum permitted fare hike of 25 percent during the post-fasting Idul Fitri holidays, an official said on Monday.

"We have filed a report to the City Public Land Transportation Agency (DLLAJ), and the agency has the authority to take stern measures against those companies.

"City police are still questioning the company officials," head of the Pulo Gadung bus terminal in East Jakarta RK Bambang Permadi said in his office.

However, he declined to name the six bus companies.

Bambang said the police may later charge the companies with criminal offenses.

The transportation agency's chairman, Buyung Atang, said his office would revoke the licenses of any bus company that raised its fares higher than that stipulated by the government.

The government imposes a universal 25 percent hike in bus and train fares during the Idul Fitri festive season, which this year took effect on Jan. 1.

Bambang admitted that violations of the governmental regulation had become rampant in the bus station in the run-up to the Idul Fitri celebrations, forcing it to request additional personnel to combat the practice.

"The city police have deployed 60 personnel, plainclothes and uniformed, to address the problem," he said.

However, most bus companies in the city remain untouched by the police operation, still charging passengers with fares higher than the permitted amount. Such violations could be observed at the Kampung Rambutan bus terminal in East Jakarta.

Hartono, who was accompanying his two female relatives to Blora in Central Java, was surprised to find that he had to pay Rp 35,000 (US$5) for an economy class ticket on a Jaya Bhakti Super bus serving the Jakarta-Blora route. The official fare for an economy class ticket to Blora, which is displayed on a board at the terminal, is Rp 22,000.

"The most important thing is that I got the tickets," he said.

At Pulo Gadung bus terminal, the official cost of a ticket on an airconditioned bus serving the Jakarta-Jepara route is Rp 40,250. However, the Gadjah Asri Raya bus company is charging Rp 51,000.

Bus company officials said on Monday they had no other option but to violate the regulation because they had additional "operational" expenditures during the festive season.

A bus company staffer said his company had to spend a lot of money on terminal entrance fees, bus components and employee Idul Fitri bonuses.

"The company must even provide money for terminal officials and hoodlums along the northern Java coastal road," Effendi A.R. of Gunung Mulia bus company said, adding that those drivers who refused to pay off the hoodlums often found their buses pelted by stones.

However, an official at the Kampung Rambutan terminal, Prijanto, dismissed the allegations, saying that each bus was only required to pay Rp 600 on entering the station.

"None of our personnel take additional money from bus crews," said Prijanto.

As of Monday, the city's bus terminals were recording a relatively normal volume of passengers.

Last year in Kampung Rambutan, 22,456 and 19,729 passengers left the terminal on the sixth and seventh days before Idul Fitri, compared with this year's totals of 27,734 and 24,938. (asa)