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Idul Fitri mass exodus set to test Indonesia to the max

Publication Date : 14-08-2012


With approximately 16.5 million holidaymakers throughout Indonesia beginning their journeys home for the Idul Fitri holidays (or Eid-ul-Fitr, the Islamic festival marking the end of fasting month), the government said all preparations had been finalised.

Public Works Minister Djoko Kirmanto said major roads across the country, including those that ran across the northern coastal region of Java (Pantura) and the Trans-Sumatra highway, were 90 per cent ready.

Kirmanto said that during the past two months, the ministry had expedited work to fix potholes and construct more bridges.

"Preparation for the Idul Fitri exodus has become a national issue because millions are expected to travel home. We are committed to providing the best road conditions for travellers," he told reporters.

Meanwhile, the ministry's spokesman Bambang S. Ervan said that airports across the country had extended their operating hours to anticipate a surge in the number of homeward-bound passengers. He said that the ministry had ordered the airport to extend its operating hours to between two and five hours depending on the number of passengers.

"Longer hours during the Idul Fitri holiday are very important because almost every airline provides extra flights based on strong demand. The extra hours will help airports better serve passengers during the exodus," Ervan said in Jakarta.

The ministry said that the main gateways: Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Cengkareng, Banten; Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali; Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, East Java; Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport in Makassar, South Sulawesi; and Polonia Airport in Medan, North Sumatra, would all operate on a 24-hour basis during the holiday.

The ministry predicts the number of airline passengers to reach almost 170,000 during peak days.

Data from the ministry indicated that domestic carriers such as Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Indonesia AirAsia and Merpati Nusantara were set to provide 515 extra flights, equal to 189,528 extra seats, from Aug. 13 to 26.

Meanwhile, the Jakarta Health Agency head Dien Emmawati said yesterday that her agency was providing free health services during the Idul Fitri holiday for homeward-bound travelers in the city.

She said the city had set up 43 health posts throughout Jakarta and would place 52 ambulances on standby. "The services have been running since recently and will wrap up seven days after Idul Fitri," Emmawati said.

For this year, the government decided that bus operators were only allowed to increase fares during the holiday season to 30 per cent from regular rates.

But passengers have complained that some operators have jacked up prices by more than 100 per cent.

Dewi Sri, a bus operator in Tangerang, said that it had raised the price for a Pemalang, Central Java-bound ticket from 40,000 rupiah (US$4.2) to 80,000 rupiah for the holiday period.

"We can't argue. The most important thing is that my family and I can get home safely," said Saliman, a passenger in Tangerang municipality.

Multa Fidrus, Andreas D. Arditya, Panca Nugraha and Slamet Susanto contributed to this report.


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