Fri, 29 Dec 2000

No sign of jump yet in number of return passengers

JAKARTA (JP): There was still no significant increase in people returning from their hometowns after the Christmas and Idul Fitri holidays, with local officials saying they do not expect it to increase until Sunday.

However, traffic was heavy at the ferry port of Ketapang, Banyuwangi in East Java on Thursday as cars queued to board the ferry to Gilimanuk, Bali.

Many holiday makers are apparently extending their holidays to the New Year which is just four days away.

Most cars boarding the ferry had out of town license plates such as from Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya and Yogyakarta.

According to Antara until Thursday evening, over 1,000 cars have taken the half-hour ferry ride to the holiday resort island.

A total of twelve ferries were operating on Thursday. Another four were on standby should there be a jump in the number passengers.

Meanwhile Yogyakarta's main intercity bus terminal of Umbulharjo was quiet on Thursday.

Most buses that were full were carrying people to recreation centers.

Ticket counters were also quiet.

Ticket counter attendants there said most people like those from Jakarta had not purchased their tickets for their return trip yet.

"The return surge is not evident yet. Just look for yourself, its very quiet," Nanik, 50, a ticket counter attendant at the terminal, said adding that the rush back will probably begin over the weekend or after the New Year.

"Most people are still with their families," she said.

The head of the bus terminal, Jony Anggoro, believes the terminal will get busy from Sunday.

Meanwhile in the port of Merak, West Java, the flow of traffic was mostly toward Bakauheni, Lampung, which continued to the wee hours of Thursday morning.

The number of passengers leaving Merak between Wednesday and Thursday reached over 30,000.

The high numbers of people bound for Sumatra on the first and second day of Idul Fitri was unexpected.

Antara said many travelers had decided to postpone their departure to their hometowns because of security fears after the violence that hit several parts of the country since Sunday night.

"We were afraid of bombings," one passenger said explaining why they decided to leave only on Wednesday.

With the large number of people traveling the past few days, the number of accidents have also risen.

One of the carriages of the Sancaka train serving the Yogyakarta-Surabaya route on Thursday night caught fire, forcing passengers to vacate the train near Jambon village in East Java.

The fire was believed to have started from the engine room of the locomotive.

"There were no casualties, just panicky passengers," local train official Sudarsono said in Surabaya.

In Bandung, West Java, two accidents occurred on Thursday at almost the same time in Kampung Cicenang, Sariater village, Cagak district, Subang regency.

The first incident took place when a truck, carrying 28 passengers, overturned when the driver lost control of the vehicle apparently due to brake failure.

The passengers suffered only minor injuries.

A few minutes later, 13 people were injured when a BMW sedan and a Kijang van collided on a street also near Sariater village.

In Serang, Banten province, a Kijang van traveling at high speed overturned on the Serang tollroad when its front tire exploded. One of the passengers was killed.

The van was said to be carrying a family from Jakarta on their to Saliran Indah beach in Merak.

The accident created traffic congestion for hours.

In Surabaya, East Java, a head-on collision occurred between intercity bus Sari Indah and a Suzuki Carry minivan on Jl. Raya Mantingan, Ngawi regency on Thursday afternoon.

Eight of 14 passengers onboard the minibus were killed. The remaining six are said to be in serious condition.

Passengers aboard the intercity bus only suffered minor injuries. (25/lup)