Tue, 30 Aug 1994

Proposal to raise traffic fines gets mixed reactions

JAKARTA (JP): The public had mixed reactions to the city administration's plan to increase traffic fines by up to 100 percent starting this week.

Some motorists said that the increase would be too burdensome while others supported the proposed hike, saying that it was understandable given high number of traffic violations.

City councilors are throwing their weight behind the increase in traffic fines, saying that the public should see it in positive light because it will act as a deterrent against traffic offenses.

"If motorists try to bribe policemen, they will still have to pay more than they usually do now. With the enactment of the new law, a policeman who receives bribes, if any of them do actually engage in this practice, will demand a higher 'off-the-road settlement fee', " Arie Putra Bintana, secretary of the City Council's commission D on development, said.

Arie said that he was optimistic that there would be less traffic violations because motorists would be more careful on the streets in the future.

The proposed hike in traffic fines is part of a major plan aimed at reducing accidents and violations.

Ismunandar, chairman of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) faction at the council, said that the new fines would make motorists think twice before driving recklessly on the streets.

Under the new fine scale, which has been endorsed by police, Jakarta High Prosecutor's Office and Jakarta High Court, drivers of private cars and public buses can be fined between Rp 15,000 and Rp 50,000 compared to between Rp 10,000 and Rp 25,000 under the present scale.

Jaywalkers and drivers ignoring traffic signs will be fined Rp 10,000 while motorists caught without a license will be fined between Rp 25,000-150,000.

Several drivers of public transit vehicles told The Jakarta Post that the new fines are too burdensome.

"How can I can afford Rp 15,000 just to pay a fine if my income is only around that much? ," sighed Udin, a driver of 12- seat Mikrolet minibus plying the Kebayoran Lama-Tanah Abang route. He added that many times he was forced to break the law to make extra money, taking passengers to unauthorized stops at their request.

"This is very, very bad news," he said.

But city councilors disagreed with Udin, saying that the new fines are within the reach of the drivers of public transit vehicles.


Some councilors, however, said that the new rulings would not pay off if they were not coupled with the enhancement of human resource management in the field.

Councilor Rusdi Saleh, from the Golkar-ruling party's faction at the City Council, said police should deploy their personnel evenly across the city -- especially at points notorious for traffic jams.

"I often see traffic violations but no action is taken against the motorists because there are no policemen at the scene, " he added.

Councilor Aliwongso Halomoan Sinaga, also part of the council's commission on transportation, warned policemen that they should not try to take advantage of the new ruling by demanding higher bribes from violators.

"The new rates are surely not meant to increase their income, are they?" he asked.

Col. Soeroso, chief of the traffic directorate at the city police headquarters, promised, yesterday, to sternly punish officers discovered receiving bribes from motorists.

"If you see officers accepting bribes, please let me know and produce evidence, such as photographs of the officers accepting bribes or recordings of their requests for a pay-off," he said.

However, he also called on the motorists not to give bribes to police in case police caught them committing traffic violations.

"The ongoing development programs include all sectors of life, including the development of law," he said.

Soeroso said that police could not watch over all the streets as they are supposed to because they lacked personnel.

According to police records, there are currently about 1,500 traffic police officers in the city, compared to 1,800 last year. This is because some of them have retired due or moved to other assignments as part of their job rotation. With the present number, each traffic policeman is to oversee 1,176 cars and 3.7 kilometer-long street.

There are 2,961 intersections here, about 100 percent more than the current traffic force can handle.


Soeroso said police would also launch Operasi Zebra (Operation Zebra), an annual traffic, police dragnet, some time in the near future to mark the implementation of the 1992 traffic law and in the run-up to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in November.

The traffic law was implemented on Sept. 17, 1993, after a one-year delay, due to public protests over the high rate of traffic fines.

Police will deploy 75 percent of the 1,500 officers at the directorate of personnel during Operation Zebra. (jsk/arf)