Transportation Minister: Eid al-Fitr Holiday Traffic Headache

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  • Minister of Transportation, Budi Karya Sumadi. Tempo/Ilham Fikri

    Minister of Transportation, Budi Karya Sumadi. Tempo/Ilham Fikri

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - For Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi, taking a leave during the Idul Fitri (end of fasting month) holiday is impossible. Since serving as an officer at Pembangunan Jaya Ancol in 2002, he has always spent this major religious celebration at work.

    Ten days ahead of this year's Idul Fitri, Budi has been working around the clock. He is giving his attention to airports, ports, train stations, terminals and toll roads. Budi predicted that openings of toll roads from Jakarta to Surabaya-although some have yet to be completed-may encourage people to go to their hometowns in private cars. "We must manage that expectation," Budi said during a special interview with Tempo on Saturday two weeks ago. Budi is particularly concerned with traffic jams at intersections, such as the Brebes Exit (Brexit) that caused 17 deaths in 2016.

    Budi's mind is also occupied by the number of motorists predicted to increase during this homecoming season. The transportation ministry is striving to lower the number of accidents by providing free homecoming services for motorists.

    On the sidelines of his busy schedules, Budi met Tempo journalists Ali Nur Yasin, Reza Maulana, and Angelina Anjar at his residence in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta. The interview was continued at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, since the Gadjah Mada University graduate had to catch a plane to Palembang, his hometown in South Sumatra, to test a light rapid transit train. Due to fatigue, Budi fell asleep in the car, and his aide had to wake him up twice when they arrived at the airport. "Taking a short nap is good," Budi said when he woke up.

    When will the peak of the homecoming season occur?

    I did research about home-comers' preferences to predict that. The results show that people in Jakarta and its surrounding areas start their trip to their hometowns two or three days before the Idul Fitri.

    Does the extended collective leave days affect that schedule?

    The research was conducted before the government decided to set the seven-day collective leave days. Therefore, we will conduct another research to figure out whether people want to spend more or less time in their hometown during the Idul Fitri holiday season. We suggest that they do their homecoming trip earlier.

    When did the transportation ministry start preparing for the homecoming season?

    We started having coordination meetings in early January. Last month, we invited all ministries, institutions, and local governments. The transportation ministry indeed is in charge of homecoming affairs. We decide on everything that must be prepared and controlled. But we realize that we can't work alone, and we must collaborate [with others]. Therefore, we held meetings at a smaller scale with the national police, the public works and public housing ministry, the health ministry, and Pertamina. We assigned them to tasks in accordance with their domains.

    How did you share the tasks?

    The public works and public housing ministry has the highest workload since they are working on road infrastructure. They are accelerating the Jakarta-Surabaya toll road construction. It's not yet entirely done, but it can be used. As for Pertamina, we want to ensure the availability of [fuel] supplies and the distribution means, particularly during traffic jams. Pertamina has prepared motorcycles to transport fuel. The health ministry has also prepared nurses on motorcycles. In the field, we will entrust everything to the national police. Traffic Corps Chief Insp. Gen. Royke Lumowa will be in charge. He will be assisted by one-star generals in several spots. I will also report to the traffic corps chief with updates.

    Which spots are categorized as vulnerable ones?

    Soekarno-Hatta Airport, Merak Port, Gambir Station, Pasar Senen Station, and Cipali (Cikopo-Palimanan) toll road. However, we have made more detailed preparations for the Cipali toll road. Otherwise, we might face problems. People may expect to use the Jakarta-Surabaya toll road since it is almost completed. Indeed, we are worried that they prefer to go that way. So we must manage their expectations.

    Read the full article in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine