Wed, 02 Jul 2003

Java coast road claims 252 lives in 12 months

Nana Rukmana, The Jakarta Post, Cirebon, West Java

Road accidents along West Java's north coast road has claimed at least 252 lives in 221 accidents that also left 296 others with severe and slight injuries during the period from July 2002 to June 2003, an officer said.

Cirebon Police chief Sr. Comr. Sunaryono said in his address at the commemoration of the 57th anniversary of the National Police in this West Java coastal city on Tuesday that the traffic accidents also cost Rp 1 billion (US$121,337) in material losses.

"On average, 19 accidents took place every month, killing 21 people and injuring 25 others. The monthly material losses were Rp 83 million," Sunaryono said.

The accidents were due to motor vehicle and road conditions as well as human error, he said, "but human error was the cause of the greater part of the accidents."

He also said that the presence of many street vendors along main roads also contributed to the accidents.

The vendors, particularly on the eve of religious holidays, pack roadsides along the route from the Central Java-West Java border area of Losari to the Patrol zone in Indramayu regency leading to Jakarta.

"In the Cirebon area, vendors cause congestion in dozens of locations, which considerably hampers traffic flow and becomes a potential cause of accidents," Sunaryono added.

The police have strived to overcome the classic problem of roadside sellers in coordination with the regional administration but they have not found a comprehensive solution in view of the socioeconomic roots of the phenomenon.

"Owing to the socioeconomic factor involved, we have only been able to reduce traffic jams by assigning personnel to regulate traffic flow at vulnerable spots along the route," he said.

With regard to criminal cases, the Cirebon Police chief indicated that motor vehicle theft and robbery had always been dominant while drug trafficking, though prominent, had recorded the lowest number of cases.

Against the corresponding period last year, the number of criminal cases in Cirebon decreased significantly from 1,233 to 1,081, with the rate of case settlement rising from only 57 percent to almost 70 percent.

Attributing the high criminal rate in the area to the temperamental character of the people of Cirebon, Sunaryono said that police patrols and covert operations were being intensified, besides inviting public participation in controlling the crime rate.