Police declare war on scalpers
JAKARTA (JP): With the demand for tickets rising steadily, City authorities here on Thursday declared war against ticket scalpers exploiting the public rush for intercity transport during the holiday season exodus.
Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Mulyono Sulaiman urged scalpers to cease their activities at various departure points across the city, warning that police would not hesitant to shoot them on site if they resort to extreme action.
"I have assigned large numbers of policemen to train and bus stations and ports in the city. Some of them are in uniform, some are not," Mulyono said.
"All of them are allowed to shoot on site if scalpers try to resort to anarchic actions."
His strong warning came after a threat by scalpers to burn down stations in the capital should PT. KA staff try to hamper their activities following the arrest of 29 ticket scalpers at Gambir railway station on Sunday.
Governor Sutiyoso on Thursday also spoke sternly saying that the city administration would likely introduce a bylaw against scalpers in anticipation of their activities as the peak exodus approaches.
"We should pass a new City Bylaw to restrict the moves of scalpers because their operations harm the people. The authorities must find a way to fight the problem," Sutiyoso remarked.
His conviction to fights scalpers was bolstered after personally listening to the plight of several travelers who had fallen prey to the scalpers.
Several passengers aboard the Lawit passenger liner that serves the Jakarta-Medan route told Sutiyoso that they bought their tickets from scalpers at twice the normal price.
"The official price of the ticket is Rp 72,000 (US$7.6) but the scalper sold the non-seat ticket to Belitung, Southern Sumatra for Rp 177,000," Sutiyoso recounted
"This is crazy!" he charged.
However the governor gave no explanation as to why the passengers agreed to buy the tickets from the scalpers in the first place.
Tightened security was also evident as on Thursday the Jakarta Military Police Regional Command stationed 35 soldiers, some in plain clothes, at Gambir railway station in Central Jakarta.
"The soldiers help us maintain security to anticipate possible anarchic actions as the annual exodus reaches its peak," PT Kereta Api (PT. KA) public relations officer Gatot Wibowo told The Jakarta Post in a telephone interview.
However Pulo Gadung bus terminal and Senen railway station on Thursday had not yet seen a significant rise in passengers.
Separately the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in an effort to facilitate the homeward journey of its employees on Thursday provided 17 air-conditioned buses for 731 lower grade employees making their homebound trip to Central and East Java.
The service was provided free of charge.
"This way there will be no queuing or sweating necessary. Hopefully they will have a safe trip home to their cities in Central and East Java. We booked the buses six months prior to the festive season," Lies Sujudi, wife of Minister Achmad Sujudi, said during the ceremony to see them off.
The ministry is forking out some Rp 55 million for transportation to various towns such as Yogyakarta, Surakarta, Purworejo and Surabaya.
The problem of scalpers has also hit Surabaya, East Java following a marked increase in the number of passengers in the bus terminals and trains stations on Thursday.
PT. KA public relations officer in Surabaya Soedarsono admitted that most train tickets were sold out, many of them, unfortunately, to scalpers.
Only executive class train tickets were still available. However, 70 percent of these had been booked since last month.
In Batam, Riau, some 250 travelers stormed passenger liner company PT Lestari Indoma's office at Sekupang port here, demanding the company issue more tickets for the Dumai Express liner, as reported by Antara.
Passengers got angry because they had been queuing since dawn but the tickets ran out at midday.
The Indonesian Air Force and Navy are also supporting the annual exodus by providing airplanes and warships to transport travelers who wish to go to Jakarta.
The Air Force is providing a Hercules transport plane today and on Sunday at a flexible price as it is not a commercial flight, ticket officer Sgt. Basirun said.
The navy has readied the KRI Langsa which will leave for Jakarta on Sunday.
An 60 percent increase in passengers compared to normal days was recorded at Gilimanuk port in Bali.
"On Thursday, there were 14,000 passengers leaving from this port. Usually we only have 8,000 to 9,000 people. We operate 16 ships everyday with a capacity of around 33,000 passengers," branch chief of Gilimanuk port office Karngun Sedono said as quoted by Antara.
However, some provinces have not yet recorded an explosion in travelers.
West Java Governor R. Nuriana said that there had yet to be a marked increase in passengers in the province, after he visited several entry points in the province on Thursday.
"At this moment there is no significant increase. But to anticipate the influx we have prepared security posts on the Java northern coastal route," Nuriana said as quoted by Antara.
He suspected the influx would reach its peak three or four days before Idul Fitri which this year will fall on Wednesday. (26/nur/dja/jaw/edt)