During the post-Ramadhan (Fasting Month) Holiday, most Indonesian Muslims follow the tradition of returning to their hometowns to celebrate the Eid Al-Fitr Islamic Festival with their families there. As a result, there is an exodus of travelers, particularly from cities to villages, during the holiday season. The annual tradition is locally called “mudik”.
Indonesia is the world's fou
rth most populous nation and the world's largest Muslim majority country, with nearly 90 percent of its 260 million people being Muslims.
Over the last few years, the government has encouraged homebound travelers to not travel by motorcycles on their journeys home, since motorcycles are more likely to being involved in traffic accidents. For this reason, the government has provided free rides to many of those heading home for the holidays.
This year, the number of free ride programs provided to homebound travelers by state and private companies, as well as government offices, increased significantly.
The number of holidaymakers joining the free-ride programs reached 511,413 people during the 2019 Eid Al-Fitr holiday season, up 68.54 percent from 303,429 people using free rides in the 2018 Eid Al-Fitr exodus by railway, ships, boats, buses, and planes.
Also, the Jakarta administration provided free rides to 17,427 people during this year's Eid Al-Fitr holiday. Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan saw off homebound travelers joining the program on May 30, 2019. The Jakarta administration provided 354 buses to bring them to 10 destinations on Java Island. The destinations were Ciamis and Kuningan in West Java Province, Tegal, Pekalongan, Kebumen, Semarang, Surakarta, and Wonogiri in Central Java Province, Yogyakarta, and Jombang in East Java Province.
Also, the Transportation Ministry provided 970 buses that could accommodate up to 54 thousand travelers to their destinations this year. In addition, the ministry deployed ships and trains to transport holiday makers.
Sugiharjo, head of the Transportation Ministry's research and development department, explained that the number of traffic accidents decreased, in part, due to fewer homebound travelers driving motorcycles, which were down by 2.75 percent.
"This condition has contributed positively to the decrease in traffic accidents," he said on June 14, 2019.
Further, the number of traffic accidents dropped by 75 percent during the Eid Al-Fitr Holiday this year, to 563 accidents, from 2,234 accidents during the same period last year.
"The most important thing for the Transportation Ministry is safety. Alhamdulillah (Thank God) there has been a significant decrease in traffic accidents, down by more than 70 percent," Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said recently.
Material losses have also dropped 72 percent from Rp6.2 billion during the 2018 Eid Al-Fitr season, to Rp1.7 billion during the same period this year.
The number of deaths in traffic accidents during the holiday season also decreased by 74 percent, from 528 last year to 137 this year.
The number of seriously injured people was down by 78 percent, from 493 people to 106 people. For less serious injuries, the number decreased by 77 percent, from 2,947 to 684 people.
The decrease in traffic accidents was also thanks to police personnel carrying out a 12-day Ketupat Operation to ensure safety of “mudik” (homegoing) travelers this year. This year's Ketupat Operation was organized from May 29 to June 10 across Indonesia, with 11 priority regions of Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, Yogyakarta, East Java, Banten, Lampung, South Sumatra, South Sulawesi, Bali, and Papua.
During the operation, 160,335 personnel were deployed, including 93,589 police officers, 13,131 military officers, 18,906 officers from various ministries, 11,720 civilian security guards, 6,913 scout members, and 16,076 members of mass organizations.
"All has run well and smoothly. Along with the fact that the ‘mudik’ trips were safe and fun, we have also been successful in reducing the number of traffic accidents," Senior Commissioner Asep Adi Saputra, spokesman of the Indonesian Police (Polri), noted at the Polri Headquarters in Jakarta recently.
Additionally, the number of traffic accidents declined by 65 percent during the holiday season, compared to the previous year, he said.
As of June 9, or three days after Eid, 529 traffic accidents were recorded during the 2019 Ketupat Operation, plummeting 65 percent from 1,491 traffic accidents in the corresponding period during the 2018 Ketupat Operation, he pointed out. A total of 312,803 vehicles had returned through the Cikampek toll road gate, out of 783,357 vehicles heading out for homebound journeys before Eid Al-Fitr, which fell on June 5, 2019.
Some 132 lives were lost in traffic accidents, 97 suffered serious injuries, while 1,638 others incurred minor injuries.
In general, “mudik” travelers enjoyed smoother and safer trips this year, which is also thanks to new toll roads that connect almost all provinces on Java Island, Sumatra Island, Sulawesi Island, Kalimantan Island and Papua Island.