Jakarta. The longer national holiday and annual exodus during Idul Fitri in mid-June requires the government and state energy company Pertamina to work twice as hard to prevent fuel shortages.
This year's holiday season is expected to see 20 million people — up from last year's 18.5 million — travelling thousands of kilometers, mainly in Java, Madura, and Bali, by buses, cars and motorcycles to their hometowns.
This will increase fuel demand along the exodus routes by a third, compared with normal days, according to Pertamina's projection. The company's acting chief executive, Nicke Widyawati, said the main pressure points in fuel distribution are in Central Java, where severe traffic congestion is expected, especially in Semarang and its surroundings.
The peak in Central Java's fuel consumption is forecast to occur on June 14-16, reaching 6,522 kiloliters, which is 34 percent higher than the region's normal daily consumption. On the national level, it is expected to happen earlier, on June 9.
Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan said the government will also increase the number of gas stations selling low-octane subsidized gasoline Premium, from around 1,500 stations in Java, Madura and Bali to more than 2,000, with supplies of up to 8,000 liters per station.
Premium is the most affordable fuel.
"The government must take action against gas station owners who don't want to sell Premium," said Eni Saragih, vice chairman of House of Representatives Commission VII, which oversees energy.
The authorities are also looking for ways to ease the Idul Fitri congestion, which in the previous years was often worsened by vehicles queuing at gas stations or running out of fuel in the middle of roads.
Pertamina joined hands with Indonesia's largest mobile network operator Telkomsel to equip 57 stations in the most critical traffic spots with the latter's digital payment service, T-Cash, to expedite transactions.
Pertamina will also deploy 200 motorcycles in areas prone to congestion to deliver emergency fuel supplies.
"One motorcycle will carry 50 liters … to prevent vehicles that run out of fuel from trapping others in traffic jams," Jonan said.