IO – Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi has announced that the Government will not prohibit citizens from returning to their hometowns for the upcoming Eid-el-Fitr 2021, even though COVID-19 pandemic has not ended. However, they will issue strict regulations to ensure that health protocols are being upheld. “We can say that in relation to the annual return to the hometowns during the 2021 Eid-el-Fitr, the Government, through the Ministry of Transportation, basically does not prohibit it,” he said during a Work Meeting between the Ministry and the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPR”)’ Commission V, Tuesday (16/03/2021).
The Work Meeting discussed a number of topics, starting from the implementation of national transportation programs during and after the pandemic, to the readiness of safe public transport to cover the outflow of citizens back to their hometowns and their return inflow to the cities for the 2021 Eid-elFitr. The most significant part of the discussion is how the Government, in this case the Ministry of Transportation and the COVID-19 Mitigation Task Force, will regulate transportation for this annual return journey.
In the past year, the Government prohibited the Eid-el-Fitr hometown return journey, in order to suppress the spread of the Coronavirus across the regions. Minister Budi stated that his Ministry, as the coordinator of national return journey, will ensure that travel out and back will be smooth and safe, among others by coordinating with the COVID-19 Task Force to strictly trace the movements of these travelling citizens. “The Ministry of Transportation as the national coordinator of the annual Eid-el-Fitr return journey fully hopes that the journey will be smooth. Therefore, I request that the Chairman of the Commission and its members help me monitor the preparation of the return journey, as well as the journey cycle itself,” he said.
Minister Budi reiterates that the Ministry of Transportation continues to monitor all strategic issues that may crop up during the return journey. First, there will be a spike in the number of people journeying back to their homeland. This is because: a) many people have been constrained due to the plague and miss seeing their family members in their home towns; b) the COVID-19 vaccination program increases protection against the disease, inspiring people to travel more; c) the recent elimination of Luxury Goods Taxes, which results in more people being able to afford an automobile; and d) the use of GeNose in COVID-19 testing of travelers in bus terminals, train stations, seaports, and airports. As GeNose is much easier and cheaper than conventional testing, people will be encouraged to travel more. “Therefore, we need to push the suppression of COVID-19, which remains at large among our citizens, by implementing health protocol strictly and regulating public travel to adapt to the necessity of preventing further outbreaks of the disease,” he said.
Second, weather conditions and possible natural disasters might occur during the Eid-el-Fitri 2021 mass journey because of the changing season. Therefore, the Ministry of Transportation will continue to monitor these potential problems and prepare for them, among others by establishing Eid-el-Fitr Journey Check Posts at strategic points throughout Indonesia. The travel fitness of vehicles and vessels will be checked at these points, such as by fuel sufficiency, engine and brake condition, etc. Furthermore, adherence to health protocols on board these vehicles and vessels will also be strictly monitored, in coordination with relevant local stakeholders.
“We are ready to anticipate medical troubles and maintain a strict health protocol. Starting 1 April 2021, we will also start using GeNose for air travelers. We are optimizing our armadas, stopping work on airstrips, and intend to implement minimum and maximum prices for traveling. We are intensifying health protocols on River, Lake, and (Aquatic) Crossing Transportation (Angkutan Sungai Danau dan Penyeberangan – “ASDP”), and we are taking steps to heighten the effectiveness of harbor masters,” Minister Budi said.
The Ministry of Transportation predicts the total of passengers who will be using public transportation modes to fall by 41% from 20.04 million people in 2019 to 11.89 million people in 2021. The number of people traveling using personal vehicles is also predicted to fall, in comparison with that of 2019: Motorcycle travelers will fall 15% to 1.17 million vehicles, automobiles travelling via toll roads will drop 13% to 2.15 million vehicles, and automobiles travelling via nontoll roads will decrease only 2% to 1.15 million vehicles. “We predict that travel using personal transportation to drop as well because of the Micro Restriction of Community Activities (Pemberlakuan Pembatasan Kegiatan Masyarakat – “PPKM”), but we will not slack off on monitoring. We hope that the travel scenario will play out well,” he said. (eka)