Mon, 24 Feb 2003

Villagers demand public transportation

Theresia Sufa, The Jakarta Post, Bogor

At least 7,000 residents of Sukawangi village in Bogor, some 60 kilometers south of Jakarta, have demanded proper access and regular transportation to and from their village to facilitate their daily activities and business.

Villagers here need access to transportation to sell their agricultural products, to shop for their daily needs, and to obtain proper medical services.

Sukawangi village, which was hit by a landslide last Thursday, lies on the slopes of Selawangi Mountain, some 100 kilometers from Bogor.

Although half of the road connecting Sukawangi and Bogor is already asphalted, no public transportation is available.

Meanwhile, the condition of the road leading to another busy market in Cipanas area, where they can get supplies for their daily needs and sell their products, is very poor with no asphalted roads and no proper public transportation, either.

At present, they sell their products to the markets in Cipanas. And to do so, they have to hire workers to carry their goods on their shoulders, walking tens of kilometers up and down over the hilly and rough path.

A worker's fee is Rp 250 (about three US cents) for every kilogram he carries on his shoulders.

Entin, 35, a villager who runs a small kiosk providing basic goods in the village, shops for her kiosk's supplies once a week at markets in Puncak, Cipanas.

She has to spend at least Rp 120,000 just on transportation.

"First, I have to take an ojek (motorcycle taxi) to Arca village. It costs me Rp 30,000. Then I spend another Rp 30,000 for a public minivan to continue the journey to Puncak," she said.

Dadang also voiced the same complaint, "It costs me Rp 60,000 to get to the Sukamakmur district office by ojek. Even to reach the nearest asphalted road by ojek, we have to spend Rp 20,000."

Due to the poor access to transportation to distribute their products, the farmers have to pay an extra Rp 63 million every year, according to Dadang, the head of Sukawangi village.

The village harvests tons of a wide variety of products and commodities including rice, vegetables, bananas, coffee beans, ginger, and cloves.

"Every year, the farmers sell 400 tons of ginger, 80 tons of coffee beans, and 25 tons of cloves to the markets in Cipanas area," Dadang said.

The village chief, however, did not state the villagers gross revenue from the sale of their products.

The poor transportation facilities also creates difficulties for village residents who fall ill.

As there is no community health center (Puskesmas) available there, a resident who falls sick will need others' help to carry him or her on a stretcher made from a sarong to the nearest hospital in Cianjur regency, West Java.

"If the transportation problem is solved, many of the residents' other problems would be solved too ... They could easily sell their products to Bogor, Puncak and Cianjur," said Dadang.