The annual exodus of city dwellers to countryside homes accompanying the Muslim holiday of Idul Fitri, which marks the end of Ramadan, has begun with a slow start, a senior Ministry of Transportation official said on Monday (19/06). (Antara Photo/Yulius Satria Wijaya)

Idul Fitri Exodus Off to Slow Start

BY :TABITA DIELA

JUNE 20, 2017

Jakarta. The annual exodus of city dwellers to countryside homes accompanying the Muslim holiday of Idul Fitri, which marks the end of Ramadan, has begun with a slow start, a senior Ministry of Transportation official said on Monday (19/06).

"Currently, there has been no significant increase in movement and the expected traffic situation will be handled by our colleagues in the field," said Wahju Satrio Utomo, Transport Ministry inspector general.

Millions of urban residents, from Jakarta and other major cities, travel to family homes in rural areas of Java and beyond by boat, rail and car to celebrate Idul Fitri each year. This year, the holiday falls on June 25-26.

The Transport Ministry expects upwards of 19 million people — a 5 percent increase from last year — to use public transit systems ahead of Idul Fitri. The government expects the majority of those leaving major urban centers to depart on June 23-24.

As of Sunday, 933,039 residents have left Indonesian cities via train to reach the countryside, though the ministry expects a total of 4.4 million rail passengers before the holiday. By Monday, 1.1 million left cities by airplane, only 20 percent of the 5.4 million passengers expected before the holiday begins.

The ministry also expects about 960,000 urban dwellers to travel by ship, 4.3 million by bus, nearly four million by ferry and a total of nine million by private car or motorcycle to reach their country homes.

Heavy traffic

Following a three-day traffic gridlock at the intersection known as Brexit — or the Brebes Toll Exit — in Central Java during last year's holiday travel rush, Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said the government has since invested more in infrastructure and manpower.

The government has prepared alternative routes during the holiday exodus, including the Pantura highway on the northern Java coast, which is the main route for overnight buses crisscrossing the island; Cipali, short for the Cikopo-Palimanan toll road on the greater Trans-Java road; and Java's southern coastal road.

"We hope the travelers will use the three routes so traffic will not be concentrated in one place," Budi said in a statement.

"If many people use Cipali toll road, we will use the gate system and divert traffic to the south or the north."

The Ministry of Public Works and Housing also built new flyovers in Dermoleng, Klonengan, Kesambi and Kretek in Central Java to reduce traffic at the East Brebes exit gate.

The National Police has predicted that traffic will move from the Brebes Exit Gate to the Gringsing Gate in Batang, Central Java, this year.

Despite the recurring traffic, some city dwellers are still eager to use their cars to go back home.

"Using a car is more flexible," Anky Adedansi, 27, told the Jakarta Globe.

"I can stop to buy food along the way," she said.

Anky is one of 3.4 million people who will travel to their hometown by car in the upcoming week, according to a Transport Ministry estimation. She said she will depart to Madiun on Wednesday and then continue on her journey to Malang, East Java.

Meisyara Zaskiya, 27, who also works in Jakarta, said she prefers to leave the capitol a day after Idul Fitri to reach her mother's hometown of Medan, North Sumatra.

"I'll go back on June 27 after the Idul Fitri celebration because the price of airline tickets skyrockets during the first and second day of the holiday," she said.

Meisyara is among many people who were born in Jakarta but still make annual journeys back to their parent's hometown. Tickets during the holiday can cost up to Rp 12 million ($903) for a round-trip journey, nearly 3.5 times greater than the government-stipulated minimum wage per month.

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