Ezra Sihite & Dessy Sagita
Indonesian transportation authorities should look to China for advice on safely managing the mass homecoming of large numbers of people, a lawmaker has said following the deaths of more than 900 Indonesians on the road during this year’s mudik period.
House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Pramono Anung said Indonesian authorities had been unprepared this year for the mass movement of people during Idul Fitri despite it being an annual event.
“Mudik management should have been standardized by the government,” the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician said.
Pramono pointed to a similar annual exodus in China during the Chinese New Year. The government there, he said, has successfully reduced the number of accidents and fatalities by imposing stricter safety measures, preparations and management.
Saleh Husin, a member of House Commission V, which oversees transportation, said his commission would summon the Ministry of Public Works, the National Police and public transportation operators to discuss the death toll, which was nearly double that of last year.
The People’s Conscience Party (Hanura) politician said that the commission wanted to discuss “the high number of accidents, which resulted in a massive loss of lives.”
The National Police said that as of Monday they had recorded 5,233 traffic accidents during the three-week mudik season, killing 908 people and leaving 1,505 others seriously injured. Last year, police recorded 587 fatalities.
One possible explanation for the surge is that the number of people traveling to their hometowns has increased. In Jakarta alone, 5.6 million people left the capital for mudik, up from 5.1 million in 2011.
Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi said her office was stunned by the high number of fatalities this year and pledged to conduct a thorough evaluation.
“We tried to implement a number of improvements like checking drivers for blood tension or whether they were using stimulants,” the minister said.
She added that her office ran an awareness campaign on avoiding accidents prior to the mudik season. The ministry also set up medical posts and stationed doctors and medical workers there alongside ambulances and medical equipment.
Nafsiah said that although the police had said the accidents were mainly caused by reckless motorcyclists, her ministry was still mapping the accidents, looking at who was involved and where they died.
“Do certain places have more fatalities, do they die instantly on the scene, on the way or while being treated … these are [the questions that need to be answered] to improve next year,” she said.
Ministry official Tjandra Yoga Aditama said medical workers did all they could to respond to emergencies. It takes medical workers 10 to 15 minutes to get to the scene of an accident, he said.