It is only five days until Indonesian Muslims observe the 2013 Eid al-Fitr festival to end the month-long Ramadan fasting month, but thousands of home-bound travelers have started to pack ferry ports and bus terminals.
From Friday evening until Saturday morning, the ferry ports of Bakauheni in Lampung and Merak in Banten on the northwestern tip of Java Island were crowded with incoming home-bound holiday travelers.
Having difficulty in obtaining public transportation to their homes, many holiday travelers had to spend the night at Bakauheni port before proceeding the next morning.
According to Winanda, a spokesman for Inland Waterway Transportation Service PT ASDP Indonesia Ferry, since Friday a large groups of holiday travelers from Java have arrived at Bakauheni from Merak.
"Traveling by buses, private cars and on motorbikes, the travelers arrived at Bakauheni port aboard a number of ferries from Merak port in Banten district," Winanda said here on Saturday.
He noted that holiday travelers started to pack Bakauheni port when their leaves began on Saturday.
"This year`s annual holiday exodus will probably peak on Monday, or three days ahead of the Eid al-Fitr. Therefore, the travelers started their journeys home on Saturday to avoid traffic jams," he said.
To anticipate an increasing number of passengers at the port, he said PT ASDP Indonesia Ferry operation has provided travelers with numerous types of assistance.
"PT ASDP Indonesia Ferry operation has prepared resting areas and places for those passengers who arrive to spend the night before proceeding on their journey the next morning," Winanda noted.
Further, he added, that since early Saturday morning the number of passengers arriving at Bakauheni port from Merak has risen significantly.
"The number of vehicles transported by ferry ships from Merak port to Bakauheni, and vice versa, are also much heavier than on regular days," he said, without mentioning the number of vehicles being transported.
He noted that the number of passengers leaving Bakauheni for Merak port in Banten district on Friday also increased significantly, with crowds of travelers possibly doubling due to those arriving from Merak.
The PT ASDP Indonesia Ferry spokesman predicted that Bakauheni ferry port would continue to be inundated by Idul Fitri holiday travelers until one day before the festival begins on Wednesday.
Therefore, National Police Chief Gen Timur Pradopo has asked the PT ASDP to make available all of its ships and facilities for the 2013 Eid al-Fitr holiday travelers.
When reviewing the security situation for the holiday mass exodus at Bakauheni ferry port in Lampung on Saturday, Pradopo said services for travelers should be made available to avoid a buildup of passengers at the port.
The national police chief made his remarks, referring to data from the PT ASDP, noting that the number of Eid al-Fitr home-bound travelers this year will increase 14.5 percent from those in 2012.
"PT ASDP should optimize its services in order that travelers can safely arrive at their respective destinations without experiencing traffic jams on their way or a buildup at the port," Pradopo noted.
Since Friday evening, the largest Rajabasa bus station in Lampung at the southern part of Sumatra Island was also packed with Lebaran holiday travelers, traveling to cities in Sumatra.
Rajabasa bus station spokesman Antoni Makky said in Lampung on Saturday that home-bound travelers continue to crowd the bus terminal.
"The travelers began trickling into the bus station early on Saturday morning and the number continued to increase with the passing of time," Antoni said.
Following the increasing number of passengers at the bus station, the waiting hours for Bakauheni ferry port-bound buses was shorter than during regular days.
As the buses from Bakauheni port entered Rajabasa bus station, passengers swarmed into them and in less than ten minutes they left again for their destinations.
"The long holiday starts this Saturday and, therefore, the number of passengers will increase significantly," Antoni said.
He noted that official data from the bus station indicated that until Saturday morning the number of passengers rose to around 10,000.
"Compared to 2012, the number of passengers at Rajabasa bus station this year increased by more than 100 percent," Antoni said, adding that around 10,000 holiday travelers arrived and left from the same bus station.
He noted that increasing numbers of people would like to travel by public transport to return home because the roads in Lampung were improving.
"The road infrastructure here is getting better. Therefore people prefer traveling by public transport, rather than using their private cars," he said.
According to Antoni, around 4,000 passengers arrived and left the Rajabasa bus station, while on regular days the number was less than 3,000.
Meanwhile, on Friday the Torobulu ferry port in Konawe Selatan district, Southeast Sulawesi, also started to be inundated by thousands of home-bound holiday travelers, port operation spokesman Labatete said in Kendari on Saturday.
"Since Friday, the port has been packed by holiday travelers who arrived by buses, private cars, and motorcycles to get on ferries," Labatete said.
He noted that many of the passengers even spent the night at the port so they might be transported by ferries from Torobulu port to Tampo port in Muna district on Saturday morning.
According to Labatete, Southeast Sulawesi provincial transportation department and Inland Waterway Transportation Service PT ASDP have anticipated the mass holiday exodus by adding three ferries, the KMP Semumu, KMP Bahteramas, and KMP Rubia, to transport travelers.
"These three ferries are ready to transport passengers and their vehicles from the ports of Torobulu to Tampo with a sailing time of around three hours," Labatete said. (Antara)