Monday, July 13, 2015

Idul Fitri exodus expected to reach 20,002,724 people

After fasting during the entire holy month of Ramadan, Indonesian Muslims, who account for nearly 90 percent of the country''s population, will celebrate the Eid Fitr, locally known as Idul Fitri, Islamic festival, on July 17 or 18 this year.

Most Indonesian Muslims follow the tradition of celebrating the Idul Fitri, in their hometowns with their families. As a result, there is an exodus of travelers, particularly from cities to villages, during this time of the year.

The transportation ministry has forecast the number of homecoming travelers to increase by 1.9 percent to reach 20,002,724 from 19,618,530 recorded in 2014.

Due to the increase in the number of travelers, traffic jams may possibly occur, and the crime rates may increase.

To secure the Idul Fitri exodus of travelers heading to their hometowns across the country, the National Police will deploy 82,538 personnel during the 16-day-long "Ketupat Operation," from July 10 to 25, 2015 - seven days before and after the Idul Fitri celebration.

In addition to the police officers, the operation will also involve 12,761 military personnel and 50,377 personnel from other related institutions, Chief of the National Police General Badrodin Haiti stated while inspecting a section of in-charge police personnel in a ceremony held in Jakarta, on July 9, 2015.

The Ketupat Operation will involve a total of 145,676 personnel, he added.

He reminded his personnel to provide their best services to the public during the implementation of the "Ketupat Operation."

"Take humane approaches; begin with a smile and a greeting; carry out security tasks and public services with sincerity and honesty," General Haiti said.

They will be deployed in 3,030 security posts and 1,083 public service posts set up across the country during the operation.

The operation will secure the exodus routes, Islamic places of worship, settlement areas, terminals, seaports, airports, and tourism sites, among others.

The police will also optimize its intelligence functions to anticipate terror attacks, sabotage incidents, and other serious crimes.

"We need to anticipate potential crimes that may threaten the security situation such as terrorism, sabotage, communal clashes, narcotic abuse, illegal road races, alcohol drinking, and fireworks," he noted.

General Badrodin pointed out that the operation is expected to help ensure smooth travel for the holidaymakers and efficient distribution of logistics, particularly staple food items and fuel.

The police will focus on reducing traffic accidents. "I urge personnel from all police ranks and agencies involved in the operation to seriously implement anticipatory measures that have been planned to reduce traffic accidents," he stated.

He shed light on the same operation conducted last year that had successfully reduced the number of traffic accidents as compared to the previous year.

In 2014, most of the traffic accidents occurred in the northern coastal routes involving motorcycles and passenger cars.

In view of this, he appealed to travelers on motorbikes heading to their hometowns for Eid to be more disciplined to prevent accidents.

He noted that some of the reasons behind the incidents were related to human factors such as carrying more passengers and luggage, indiscipline, and fatigue.

"The travelers must ensure that the vehicles are in good condition, including their tires and brake system," he affirmed.

To anticipate traffic accidents that may occur during upcoming Idul Fitri exodus, the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) has set up health service posts at 219 points, which will function from July 10 to 24, to help serve homebound travelers joining the Idul Fitri exodus.

"The initiative is aimed at minimizing the number of fatalities or disabilities in traffic accidents that may occur during upcoming Idul Fitri exodus," acting executive chairman of the PMI Ginandjar Kartasasmita said. The organization will deploy 5,626 personnel, including doctors, nurses, and volunteers, to deliver healthcare services to the public. It will also deploy 319 ambulances to support these services.

In addition, the PMI will coordinate with the governments health officers, transportation officers, police and military personnel, as well as regional governments and local hospitals to assist homebound travelers in need of medical help.

The medical posts will be set up in strategic locations such as seaports, airports, toll road exits, railway stations, and bus terminals.

Moreover, in case of emergencies, travelers can contact the PMI using their mobile application available on android cell phones. It can be downloaded from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cube.gdpc.idn .

In the exodus of travelers for Idul Fitri in 2013, police recorded 719 fatalities from traffic accidents, which was a decline from the 908 recorded the previous year.

Over the last few years, the government has encouraged homebound travelers to not use motorcycles for their long journeys home. For this purpose, it has provided free rides to motorcyclists heading home for the holidays.

"In 2014, the total number of motorcyclists was 2.5 million," Deputy Chief of the Jakarta Police Brigadier General Nandang Jumantara said recently.

To reduce the number of homebound travelers using motorcycles, the transportation ministry to provide trucks, trains and ships to transport motorcyclists and their co-passengers to their destinations for free, Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan noted recently.

A number of private companies and the Navy have also offered free ride services to homebound travelers. (Antara)

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