Jakarta (ANTARA) - A large-sized travel bag and a medium-sized one sat neatly in the center of the 4 x 5 m room as if ready to be whisked away--making for a rare sight during Eid al-Fitr amid the pandemic.

The room's occupant, Anggy (30), had already decided that she would head home to Bengkulu on April 28.

It was a joyous Eid al-Fitr homecoming for her since she could not celebrate the Eid holiday with her family for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After the government allowed the public to conduct homecoming during Eid al-Fitr this year, Anggy, who works at a state-owned enterprise (SOE) got ready by purchasing an airplane ticket three weeks before her intended departure.

Purchasing tickets well in advance is one strategy to get a reasonably priced ticket.

This is because the price of airplane tickets tends to rise during Eid al-Fitr. Several flight schedules also get filled during the period.

"I have a friend who already ran out of tickets to purchase for homecoming on (April) 29,” she informed at her residence in Pasar Baru, Central Jakarta, on April 28.

"Which is why the tickets must be purchased far before departure," she added.

The Eid homecoming this year has become a major event for people. The Transportation Ministry's survey has estimated that around 82 million people would join the homecoming exodus, with at least 27 million using personal vehicles and 17 million using motorcycles.

The route most preferred by homecomers this year has been the eastern route, namely toward West Java, Central Java, and East Java.

Observing the enthusiasm of the people for this year's homecoming, President Joko Widodo had urged the people to leave early to avoid traffic congestion, which was predicted to occur on April 28, 29, and 30.

Related news: Two million passengers recorded on Apr 22-May 4: AP II

Safe Homecoming

Following up on the government's policy allowing homecoming travel, the police, related ministries, and institutions have been working together to ensure a safe, smooth, and healthy travel experience for the people.

To secure homecoming, the police force has launched the 2022 Ketupat Operation involving 144,392 joint personnel, including personnel from the police and regional governments as well as volunteers.

The personnel comprise 876 officers from police headquarters, 87,004 regional police officers, and 56,512 personnel from other institutions, such as the military and the transportation office.

The personnel have been deployed at 2,702 posts comprising 1,710 security posts, 734 service posts, and 258 integrated posts.

The posts aim to secure shopping centers, stations, terminals, airports, harbors, tourist destinations, and the homecoming route.

To help homecomers to return home safely and smoothly, the 2022 Ketupat Operation Posts have been equipped with several facilities.

The facilities include rest areas for drivers, health facilities, information services, and health protocol monitoring.

In addition, they also have PeduliLindungi application screening, mask and sanitizer sharing events, traffic workers, and distribution of free food for suhoor (the pre-dawn meal during Ramadhan) and takjil (a snack to break fast).

Beyond these services, the police have also made efforts to prevent congestion along the homecoming route, primarily in Java, by implementing traffic engineering.

An example of this traffic engineering is the contraflow scheme implemented on the toll road from KM 47 Cikampek to KM 70 Cikupa Utama.

Another example is the one-way and odd-even system implemented from KM 47 Cikampek to KM 414 Kalikangkung Toll, Semarang, Central Java.

The traffic engineering was implemented on the homecoming route from April 28 until May 1 and will be implemented again from May 6 to 9.

However, four days before the operation, using its discretion, the police force adjusted the one-way schedule that started from 7 a.m. until 12 a.m. on April 29 to 7 a.m. on April 29 to 8 a.m. on April 30.

Normalization was conducted from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., which meant that the traffic flow was two-way. From 4 p.m. up to 8 a.m. on May 1, one-way flow was implemented.

Another strategy for reducing congestion has involved urging people to start their homecoming travel early to avoid the peak homecoming flow.

In addition, people have been asked to use alternative routes beyond toll roads, such as the northern beach route or southern beach route.

Chief of Police, Listyo Sigit Prabowo, had asked people to utilize public transportation in order to avoid congestion.

The government also implemented a free homecoming program to help people to return to their hometowns. This was also done to reduce congestion.

The police provided 400 bus units, with the quota set at 20 thousand passengers, for free travel to West Java, East Java, and Central Java.

The police also urged the people to utilize other public transportation modes such as airplanes and trains to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

Related news: Widodo urges travelers to return earlier to prevent traffic congestion

Healthy Homecoming

Prabowo emphasized that the pandemic is not yet over. A number of nations, such as China, are once again enforcing lockdowns due to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases.

Indonesia has had the same experience during major religious days. During such times, public activity rises, which is often followed by an increase in positive COVID-19 cases, he explained.

A surge in COVID-19 cases after major religious holidays and national holidays has been observed for two consecutive years in 2020 and 2021.

Therefore, bolstering the health protocols and performing primary and booster vaccinations is necessary.

The police force is providing vaccination services at all 2022 Ketupat Operation posts along the homecoming route.

This decision is meant to help people get booster shots, which is a prerequisite for homecoming travel without having to undergo antigen or rapid PCR tests.

Currently, the average daily additional infection rate is between five hundred and one thousand per day, or 0.804 percent. Moreover, the hospital occupancy rate is pegged at 2.9 percent and the death rate at 2.58 percent.

Observing these positive trends, the government has provided relaxations in various activities, such as allowing homecoming after banning the activity for two years in a row.

Let us work together to make this year's homecoming a safe and comfortable activity.

It can also become a healthy one by taking complete and booster vaccinations, and be made comfortable by adjusting the homecoming period to avoid traffic snarls.

Related news: 2022 Eid homecoming flow running smoothly: President
Related news: National Police evaluates traffic engineering for Eid exodus

Editor: Suharto
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