Mon, 27 Aug 2001

No laws to punish scalpers, say police, railway firm

JAKARTA (JP): It's an open secret that one can easily find a ticket scalper at Gambir railway station in Central Jakarta.

"Going to Bandung? Looking for a ticket?" said one scalper to The Jakarta Post in front a still-closed ticket counter with a long queue in front of it.

After stating his price, which was more than thirty percent above the counter price, he quickly added that it was negotiable.

According to the station management, scalpers cannot be dealt with legally as there is no law against scalping.

When scalpers are caught and taken to a police station, the police are often confused as to how to deal with them as scalping is not considered an offense, said Zainal Abidin, the public relations officer of the state-owned rail company, PT KAI.

"They are soon released again, sometimes right after the report has been typed up. And then they're right back down at the station again," he said.

Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Anton Bachrul Alam admitted that the police were unable to take action against the scalpers unless they were selling fake tickets or forcibly harassing people to buy tickets.

"If they sell original tickets issued by PT KAI, what can we do? It's different if the company reports them to us," he said last weekend.

In an effort to curb the activities of scalpers, the train company has applied a system under which one person can only pay for up to four seats, which are then printed on a single ticket. The sale of tickets through Bank Central Asia ATMs has also been introduced.

Zainal admitted, however, that scalpers could still purchase tickets despite the two systems and sell the seats at a higher price.

Interestingly, scalpers are now using more creative ways of running their businesses. They now employ "jockeys" to stand in line for them. There could be several jockeys for one scalper.

Zainal said that eradicating scalpers should not be made the responsibility of management alone.

"There wouldn't be any scalpers if people were disciplined enough to stand in line for their tickets and refused to use the services of scalpers," he asserted.

Some passengers admitted to approving of the scalpers' services as they did not wish to stand in line.

"Sometimes I have to go off on an unexpected business trip and I have to rush from my office to the station ... but I can still get a ticket from the scalpers," A.W Adnan, a company employee, added.


Scalping is not the only problem at Gambir railway station, which is located only a couple of hundred meters away from the gubernatorial office and the state palace.

There are also a lot of hoodlums operating at the station, demanding money from taxi drivers and motorists.

"If I'm not willing to give them 'tips', I can't park my taxi here... it's like an unspoken agreement," said one taxi driver, Rusli, as he drove away from the taxi rank after paying one of the boys Rp 500.

The station management and security service, however, denied any problems with hoodlums in the area of the train station.

"So far we haven't received any complaints about hoodlums in our area," Ibrahim, a security guard, said.

He admitted, though, that they have to deal with some pickpocketing cases every now and then.

When asked about the boys collecting money from the taxi drivers, Zainal replied:

"No one forces the drivers or anyone else to give them money. They are not threatened by anyone to do so," he said. (06/emf)