Elisabeth Oktofani, Febriamy Hutapea & Camelia Pasandaran
Transportation Minister Freddy Numberi will be summoned for questioning by legislators over the huge increase in traffic accidents during this year’s mudik, an official said on Monday.
Marwan Jafar, a National Awakening Party (PKB) lawmaker and member of House of Representatives Commission V, which oversees transportation affairs, said the rise in accidents during the annual end-of-Ramadan exodus warranted an official explanation.
“We will soon conduct an evaluation meeting with the transportation minister,” he said.
He added that all state officials responsible for ensuring an incident-free mudik would also be evaluated, including those from the Ministry of Public Works, which he said failed to complete urgently needed road repairs where many of the accidents occurred.
The National Police recorded 4,006 accidents between Aug. 23 and Sept. 4. Idul Fitri, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan, fell on Aug. 31 this year.
The number of accidents was up by a third from last year’s figure of 3,010, but the number of fatalities was down — 661 compared to 746 last year, according to the police. Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih said on Monday that the number of fatalities was “around 700.”
Alvinsyah, a transportation expert from the University of Indonesia, said most of the accidents could be attributed to careless motorcycle and car driving.
“[Drivers] failed to exercise discipline while driving because they were too excited about going home to see their families,” he said.
Alvinsyah said that while reckless driving was the primary cause behind many of the accidents, other contributing factors included poor road conditions and mechanical problems with the vehicles.
“With the number of accidents over the Idul Fitri exodus increasing each year, the government needs to pay serious attention to the factors behind them and take serious long-term ac tion improve the mudik,” he said.
“It needs to improve the quality of road infrastructure and provide more traffic signs and proper rest areas along the main mudik routes.”
He also said many people choose to travel in private vehicles due to a shortage of public transportation.
“The public transportation options and capacity are very limited, while the number of travelers is high and many of them have a limited budget. Therefore, they seek the cheapest option,” he said.
The president’s office agreed with the need to thoroughly review this year’s mudik preparations, but it played down the problem of poor roads.
Julian Pasha, a presidential spokesman, said the rise in accidents may have reflected the higher number of people traveling this year.
He added that data on the number of mudik travelers was still being compiled. In August, the Ministry of Transportation predicted that the number of road and rail travelers would total about nine million this year, up from 8.6 million last year.