Mon, 10 Jan 2000

Large influx of travelers on weekend: Official

JAKARTA (JP): The capital is set to groan under a massive influx of returning Idul Fitri holiday makers beginning this weekend, railway officials said on Sunday.

They told The Jakarta Post their prediction was based on the fact that schools here would startup again next Monday, after a one-month holiday for the fasting month of Ramadhan.

"Students will return to school on Jan. 17 and they probably will not waste a day in their parents' hometowns," spokesman for the state-owned railway company PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) Zainal Abidin said.

A senior railway official, Muhadi, at the Pasar Senen railway station supported the view, saying the station had not, until Sunday, witnessed a significant number of inbound travelers.

About two million Jakartans have left the capital by train, bus, ship, plane and private vehicle over the past few days to celebrate the annual Muslim holiday with relatives throughout the archipelago.

Until Sunday, most of the railway stations and major intercity bus terminals were relatively quiet after being flooded by travelers since the middle of last week.

At Kampung Rambutan terminal in East Jakarta, for example, the amount of people leaving the capital was still greater than the number returning.

"There were more than 24,000 outbound travelers compared to only some 13,000 inbound passengers here today," said an official, Endang Permana.

He also revealed terminal authorities had laid on several night buses to anticipate late-night arrivals.

Endang couldn't predict when the returnees would arrive at the terminal as it mainly served cities in the neighboring province of West Java, such as Bandung, Banjar, Merak, and Tasikmalaya.

"Usually, returning flows are not too high because the cities are not so far from Jakarta," Endang said.

Pulogadung intercity bus terminal in East Jakarta also witnessed a small number of inbound passengers.

"There have been some 10,000 passengers leaving and only about 3,600 passengers arriving today," said official Hermawan.

"The terminal is almost empty now," he added.

Separately, head of Jakarta Public Land Transportation Agency Buyung Atang announced on Sunday that at least 33 bus companies had been discovered violating the 25 percent fare hike set by the government for the Idul Fitri exodus.

"The agency will temporarily suspend their operation licenses, depending on the degree of their violation," he told the Post.

The suspension, he said, would be effective for three to six months.

"There were 65 licenses suspended last year. However, we haven't revoked any licenses yet," he added.

Buyung also said the number of bus operators found exceeding the sanctioned hike would rise after his staff, who are on their Idul Fitri leave but also assigned to investigate violations during their trip, return home from their holidays.

"I've paid 80 of my staff who are on leave during the exodus to randomly monitor the buses they take. They will report any violations after they return to the office," he said.

The agency was also waiting the final report from members of the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) on bus fare violations.

"I am grateful for the help from YLKI volunteers. We will certainly evaluate all reports we receive," Buyung promised. (05)