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With just days to go before millions of people are expected to start streaming out of the capital as part of the annual Idul Fitri exodus, the government is pulling out all the stops to ease the usually traumatic travel experience.
To relieve traffic along Java’s north coast highway as motorists head back to their hometowns, in a tradition known as mudik , the government will be providing free transportation from Jakarta to Semarang for motorcyclists aboard naval vessels.
“For those using motorcycles, they can take ships from Tanjung Priok Port to Tanjung Mas in Semarang for free,” National Police Chief Gen. Timur Pradopo said at the State Palace on Monday. “The Navy will prepare the ships. This is a chance to reduce the number of accidents since the majority of accidents involve motorcycles.”
The free service would operate until Sept. 14, he added.
Hatta Rajasa, the coordinating minister for the economy, predicted some 15.4 million people would be traveling across the country over the Idul Fitri period, a 3.95 percent increase from last year. The flow of traffic is expected to peak between Friday and Sunday.
According to the police, 277 people died in 1,241 road accidents involving motorcycles during Idul Fitri last year.
Transportation Minister Freddy Numberi said the Navy was looking to ferry around 5,000 travelers to the Central Java capital. “The ships will cut the travel time for people. They can go directly to their villages once arriving at Tanjung Mas Port,” he said.
He said all passengers would also be served free meals. “That way they can break the fast on the ship and have the predawn meal,” he added.
For those traveling by car, Public Works Minister Djoko Kirmanto said major roadways had been repaired around the country and all roadworks were now completed.
“All the roads that will be used by people going home have been fixed, especially in provinces that have seen an increase in traffic,” he said.
In East Java, police are deploying 60 snipers to protect travelers from carjackers and bandits operating in the province. East Java Police Chief Insp. Gen. Hadiatmoko said the snipers would likely be deployed starting today and would be stationed at undisclosed locations along the north, central and south Java highways.
For those taking to the skies, Freddy said the government had set a ceiling limit on ticket prices during the holiday season.
“I have told my staff to check with the airports and reprimand operators that sell tickets at prices higher than the limit. If necessary, [we will sanction them] by reducing their routes,” he said. “There will be a total of 373 airplanes operating and we predict there will be 4.7 million passengers traveling by air.”
Hatta said the government would increase the number of ferries at Bakauheni seaport, a major link for the islands of Java and Sumatra.
“The president has also asked the military to prepare ships in case there are any problems [with commercial operators],” he said.
He said the number of ships operating over the holiday period nationwide would be increased to 747.
“Airplane capacity will be increased by 10 percent so that they can serve 3.24 million passengers,” he added.
Separately, the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) warned people not to accept food or drinks from strangers to avoid being drugged.
“Every year we find unconscious people who have taken food or drink from people they’ve just met, mostly at bus terminals,” Prasetyo Widhi Buwono, from the IDI’s public service division, said on Monday.
Prasetyo, who is a doctor at Persahabatan Hospital in East Jakarta, said they regularly received patients who had been drugged and robbed over the holiday period. He said most patients were offered drinks laced with an antihistamine or Valium.
“The problem is, people who mixed the drinks don’t consider the maximum dosage of the drug. Some of the victims don’t regain consciousness and die,” he said, although most patients recovered within four to six days.
Additional reporting by Amir Tejo and Vento Saudale.
source Jakarta Globe