Fri, 19 Aug 1994

Govt wants returning workers to use Damri bus

JAKARTA (JP): The Ministry of Manpower is urging Indonesian workers returning from work assignments abroad, especially women, to use a special bus fleet provided by the state transportation company PT Damri.

The ministry's spokesman, Fachri Thaharuddin, said that the ministry supported Damri's initiative to arrange the special transportation because it would help the ministry protect the workers from notorious extortionists who used to prey on them at the Seokarno-Hatta airport.

"The existence of the special transport is beneficial to workers because the fares set by Damri are usually lower than that of the charges collected by similar transportation companies," Fachri said.

Fachri was quoted by Antara as saying yesterday that the existence of the special fleet is also useful for workers because they can claim compensation from the company if they are extorted by opportunists during travel from the airport to the hometowns.

Director General of Air Transportation Zaenuddin Sikado said earlier that the directorate general had asked Damri to arrange special transportation for workers returning from their work assignments abroad with a maximum fares of Rp 500,000 per bus.

"If there are 10 workers using the bus they can share it and pay only Rp 50,000 per person," Fachri said.

Tens of workers returning from their work assignments overseas, especially women, have complained about the operation of opportunists at the airport who used to extort them.

The opportunists reportedly forced the workers to take buses they had arranged and ordered them to pay between Rp 200,00 and Rp 300,000 per person for a trip to Central Java.


A division head of the Indonesian Manpower Supply Companies (PJTKI), Idrus Shech Abubakar, concurred with Fachri about Damri's initiative to provide a special armada for the workers.

"The existence of Damri's armada is also helpful for members of PJTKI which lacks a special transportation fleet," Abubakar said.

PJTKI is an association of manpower placement agencies responsible for sending the workers abroad.

But Abubakar said that the airport authority and the Manpower Ministry should not relax their operation against extortionists who operate at the airport because Damri are only responsible for the safety of workers while traveling.

Minister of Manpower Abdul Latief, accompanied by Jakarta Military Commander Maj. Gen. Hendropriyono, Director General of Immigration Roni Sikap Sinuraya and City Police Deputy Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Ismet Ibrahim, inspected Soekarno-Hatta airport last week, but saw none of the extortionists operating there as they had reportedly stopped their operations.

During the inspection, Hendropriyono announced that the authorities had detained 30 people, four of whom were military officers, for hassling workers at the airport and promised that the suspects would be tried according to law.

The two-star general, popularly known as Hendro, also said that the Jakarta Military Command had deployed 250 military and 50 police officers to crack down on opportunists robbing workers at the international airport.

In order to escape the extortionists, Jakarta city counselors have also encouraged workers to travel "cash-light". (has)