In accordance with the directives of President Joko Widodo, this year's Eid al-Fitr exodus must be carried out smoothly and safely.
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesian Muslims, who account for over 85 percent of the country's 260 million population, began observing the holy fasting month of Ramadan on May 6, 2019. At the end of the fasting month, on June 5 or 6, they will celebrate the Eid al-Fitr Islamic festivities.

Most Indonesian Muslims follow the tradition of celebrating Eid al-Fitr in their hometowns with their relatives. As a result, there is an exodus of travelers, particularly from cities to villages, during this time of year.

The government has predicted that more than 22.83 million Eid al-Fitr holidaymakers will travel by public transportation this year, up four percent compared to last year.

"Based on the results of our survey, 4.4 million (holidaymakers) choose to travel by bus," Director General of Land Transportation of the Transportation Ministry Budi Karya Sumadi said at a coordination meeting on Eid-al-Fitr transportation 2019 in Bandarlampung, Lampung Province, Sumatra Island, recently.

Of the total travelers, 2.4 million will choose to travel by train, 1.4 million by plane, 4.3 million by private cars and 940 thousand by motorcycle.

"Until now, motorcyclists still dominated Java's northern coastal highway during the homecoming period," the minister said.

Over the last few years, the government has encouraged homebound travelers to travel by motorcycles on their long journeys home. For this purpose, it has provided free rides to motorcyclists heading home for the holidays. Private companies have also been urged to offer free buses to transport their low-income employees, so they can return to their hometowns.

Budi Sumadi said this year's homecoming traveling, locally known as “mudik”, is themed "Safe and Harmonious Homecoming Traveling" in accordance with President Joko Widodo's directives. As such, the public will feel more secure during their trips. He hoped the Eid al-Fitr exodus will run smoothly and remain safe.

"In accordance with the directives of President Joko Widodo, this year's Eid al-Fitr exodus must be carried out smoothly and safely. There should be no problems encountered by travelers. Moreover, our exodus theme is 'Eid al-Fitr Exodus Together, Fun and Smooth'," he said.

The minister attended a coordination meeting on the 2019 Eid al-Fitr travel period in Lampung on Thursday, to discuss preparations for assisting homebound travelers at Bakauheni Seaport, toll roads, trains and airports in Lampung.

The ministry offers free travel in Merak and Bakauheni seaports by ferry and naval ship, to assist travelers crossing the sea between Java Island and Sumatra Island from Merak Seaport in Banten Province (Java) and Bakauheni Seaport in Lampung Province, Sumatra Island.

During the discussion, Governor of Lampung M Ridho Ficardo expressed his gratitude to the Transportation Minister for attending the meeting.

"I am very grateful that this year travelers can use the Bakauheni-Terbanggi Besar toll road up to the Simpang Pematang toll road," he said.

Also this year, an increasing number of homebound travellers are choosing to use the Trans Java toll road. To that end, the government will impose one-way traffic to relieve congestion due to the influx of holidaymakers travelling from Jakarta and its surroundings, to West Java and Central Java.

By imposing one-way traffic, he expressed his hope that more vehicles will be able to travel on the Trans Java toll road and at a higher speed, thus cutting the time taken for travelers from Jakarta and its surroundings to reach their hometowns.

As for protection for airplane passengers, the Transportation Ministry has ordered tighter security at the country's airports amidst the tense political situation following the announcement of presidential election results.

"In the midst of the heated political situation and in the lead up to the Eid-al-Fitr transportation period, I ordered tight security. Sweeps will be conducted, as of tomorrow," he said on Wednesday.

Confirming the measures, Vice President for Corporate Communication of PT Angkasa Pura II, Yado Yarismano, said the country's airports are operating normally. However, to anticipate the impact of the tense political situation, state airport operator PT Angkasa Pura II will increase security and the checking of goods, passengers and vehicles, and conduct periodic patrols according to standard procedures.

Likewise, security at seaports, bus terminals and railway stations will also be tightened, according to the Transportation Minister.

"We step up our preparedness so they (irresponsible people) will not arbitrarily threaten bus terminals, railway stations, seaports and airports," he said

Amid sharp hikes in airplane ticket prices, trains have become a favorite means of transportation for “mudik” travelers.

To provide greater comfort for passengers, state-owned railway operator PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) Divre IV Tanjungkarang launched a Sriwijaya Train having stainless steel carriages to improve services to passengers on the Tanjung Karang-Kertapati route during the exodus.

"The Sriwijaya Train, with its stainless-steel body, is an innovation of PT KAI in a bid to enhance the quality of trains in Indonesia," Sulthon Hasanudin, head of KAI's Divre IV Tanjungkarang, remarked in Bandarlampung on Sunday (May 26).

The new trains began to operate on May 26, 10 days prior to the Eid Al-fitr.

The new Sriwijaya Train has two executive-class wagons, seven economy premium class wagons, a dining car, and a generator wagon, with a total seating capacity of 660.

"On the whole, as it is new, the train is more comfortable than the old series," Hasanudin explained.

The train's exterior and interior design bears similarities to the old one, apart from its paint, lively patterns, door paint, toilet and train set configuration.

The latest facilities of this stainless steel train are visible from every passenger seat, where a foot rest and folding table is available, along with a placemat, drink holder, and hanger.

Every train seat is equipped with audio jacks, thereby enabling passengers to listen and enjoy entertainment currently showcased on the television unit on each train. It also has four television sets, including two large televisions on each end of the train carriage and two medium-sized ones placed in the middle of the train. Each wagon of the train comes equipped with CCTV that monitors every passenger's activity on the train.

The good news is that even with the new stainless steel body and facilities, PT KAI has not hiked ticket prices.

Editor: Sri Haryati
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