Compared to last year, the government proved itself to be nimbler in prepping services for the Idul Fitri back-to-home holiday travelers. Old roads have been given a face-lift and new roads opened. Even alternatives routes and provincial roads have been revamped with their road signs neatened or added.
The logistics sector did not lag behind, either. In addition to conventional gas stations (SPBU), Pertamina has prepared a special fuel distribution system along the holiday routes. Those traveling via the functional toll roads, where there are no permanent SPBUs in some of the stretches, will be served by 90 motorcycle fuel sellers and fuel trucks. Each motorcycle will supply 50 liters of Pertamax fuel at SPBU prices.
Such committed efforts have raised the spirit of would-be holiday travelers ahead of D-Day, especially those traversing the Java–aptly dubbed ‘the epicenter of the national annual homecoming trips’. However, all this heartening prep work should still be kept in close check considering the number of road users. Assuming the number of this year’s travelers goes up by four percent as in last year, around 2.6 million private cars will throng the roads across Java. But the increase in the number of motorcycles is more worrying. Last year, the number jumped 50 percent from the previous year, to 5.6 million units.
Due attention should also be given to driver comfort on both toll and alternative roads, as driver fatigue can lead to oversight and negligence. Therefore, in addition to refurbishing roads and traffic signs, road service providers should also consider providing sufficient full-service rest areas along the roads as well as mobile toilets to prevent human waste from contaminating the air and the roads.
Last year saw 2,979 road accident cases during the holiday exodus, a six percent decrease from the previous year. The number of fatalities–though still standing at 558–also fell. This declining trend should continue, particularly given that most accidents were caused by human errors.
Human factor greatly influences safe mobility on the road. It is not wise for travellers to rely on toll roads as the only passage. Last year, for example, droves of holiday-makers wishing to try the new Brebes toll road ended up in the highly regrettable ‘Brexit tragedy’. After all, the traffic on the north and south coast roads around the same time was relatively uncongested. Therefore, drivers should heed directions from traffic officers whose task is to guide heavy holiday traffic flows.
But smoother traffic in Java may not necessarily represent the same for other parts of the country as weather conditions in the eastern part of Indonesia, particularly Maluku, are predicted to be somewhat unfriendly. Ambon island, for example, is now hit by extreme weather with above normal rainfalls which is also affecting neighboring islands such as Saparua, Haruku, Nusalaut, Buru and Seram.
Going on the trip home in the end should be guided by common sense. All subjective wishes should not override objective considerations for conditions and circumstances. Since the essence of Idul Fitri is for gratitude, safety should come as the first priority during this annual season of back-to-home trips.