Thu, 20 Nov 2003

Java's north coast highway hit by 8-kilometer tailback

Nana Rukmana and Yuli Tri Suwarni, The Jakarta Post, Cirebon/Bandung

A tank full of cement that rolled of a truck traveling along Java's north coast highway caused a nine-hour traffic jam on the stretch of the highway between the West Java regency of Cirebon and the Central Java regency of Brebes.

The accident occurred on Tuesday on a street in the Cirebon subdistrict of Panggang, some 2 kilometers west of Cisanggarung bridge, which connects West Java and Central Java provinces.

The accident should serve as a wake-up call for local governments to improve their preparations for managing traffic congestion on the highway, one of the main roads on Java island and an essential route for Idul Fitri holiday travelers.

Popon, a local resident, said that the accident began on Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m, when a truck belonging to cement maker PT Semen Gresik suddenly stalled on Jl. Panggang. The truck, which was heading west to Jakarta, was carrying a tank containing liquid cement, he said.

"Another truck came several hours later to replace the stalled truck.

A number of people, with the help of a mobile crane, started to set about transfering the tank containing liquid cement from the stalled truck and move it onto the replacement truck," the 50-year-old resident said early on Wednesday morning.

But, after the tank had been lifted of the stalled truck, the crane was unable to hold it and the tank crashed down onto the street, he said.

The accident caused an 8-kilometer tailback from Gebang market in Cirebon regency to Tanjung market in Brebes regency.

The cause of the hold-up was only removed at 12.15 a.m on Wednesday after another mobile crane was dispatched to the scene.

With the help of the two trailer cranes, the tank was placed on the second truck, allowing it to finally proceed on its way to Jakarta.

Traffic along the Cirebon and Brebes regency street finally resumed to normal on early on Wednesday morning, said Cirebon Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Musyafak.

No fatalities were reported in the incident.

Separately on Wednesday, a bus crashed into a Toyota Hardtop jeep on Rajamandala street in Bandung mayoralty, leaving the jeep driver, Yahya, 40, badly injured.

Besides crashing into the jeep, the Hiba Utama bus also smashed into a house on the side of the street.

The chief of the Bandung Police's traffic section, Adj. Comr. Sadiman, said that the chain of events commenced at 2 p.m, when heavy rain was falling in the Rajamandala area.

The bus, which was traveling west to Sukabumi from Bandung, was overtaking on a bend when it collided with the Toyota Hardtop, which was traveling in the opposite direction.