Homecoming Postponed by COVID-19: An Overview of Transport Restrictions in Indonesia During Idul Fitri
By Zulfikar Dimas Winarno
Indonesia, the largest Muslim-majority country in the world, has a long tradition of millions of people traveling back to their home villages and hometowns for Idul Fitri, a custom known as mudik Lebaran. That tradition is being upended this year by COVID-19.
With the goal of curbing the spread of COVID-19, the Indonesian government, through the Minister of Transportation (\"MOT‚Äù), has enacted MOT Regulation No. PM 25 of 2020 regarding Transportation Control During the 1441 Hijriah Eid Al-Fitr Homecoming Period for the Purpose of Preventing the Spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (\"PM 25/2020‚Äù).
Essentially, PM 25/2020 imposes a temporary prohibition on Idul Fitri travel by restricting the use of different modes of transportation during the peak travel season of Ramadan. Although temporary in nature - at the moment the enforcement period is April 24 to May 31 - it is possible the prohibition could be extended, depending on developments with the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia.
PM 25/2020 seeks to prohibit all modes of transportation from exiting and/or entering areas, including the Jakarta metropolitan area of Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi, known as Jabodetabek, where large-scale social restrictions (pembatasan sosial berskala besar or \"PSBB‚Äù) are in place or areas designated as COVID-19 red zones.
Land and Water Transportation
The scope of land transportation temporarily prohibited in designated areas under PM 25/2020 includes public and personal motor vehicles (buses, cars and motorcycles). The regulation also prohibits transportation by ferry or other watercraft for lakes or rivers.
PM 25/2020 prohibits any personal motor vehicle from leaving its point of origin and requires all public land transportation operators to refund any ticket purchased for the prohibited travel period. Checkpoints administered by the Indonesian National Police and Indonesian Armed Forces will be set up to enforce the travel ban for public and personal motor vehicles.
The Land Transportation Management Office and port administrator units will establish separate checkpoints for ferries and river and lake watercraft.
Sanctions for violations differ depending on the time period. Between April 24 and May 7, violators will be instructed to return to their point of departure. Beginning May 8, stricter sanctions in accordance with applicable laws and regulations will apply, in addition to the order for violators to return to their point of origin. Government agency vehicles, emergency vehicles (fire trucks, ambulances and hearses), and other essential vehicles used for services related to logistics, food and beverage, and medicine are exempted from this prohibition.
Recent reports from news media outlets indicate about 50 checkpoints have been established in areas such as the Cikarang and Bitung tollgates and that thousands of vehicles have been instructed to return to their points of departure
The prohibition on rail transportation applies to both intercity and city train travel. Intercity trains in designated areas are required to cancel all trips during the prohibited time period and refund tickets, while city trains are only prohibited to travel in the area of Jabodetabek. Any city trains operating outside Jabodetabek may continue to operate as long as they comply with any PSBB arrangements applicable in their locale.
PM 25/2020 allows the operation of intercity trains for the transport of necessary goods. It also allows \"extraordinary‚Äù train travel strictly for the purpose of the mitigation and prevention of COVID-19.
Following the enactment of PM 25/2020, PT Kereta Api Indonesia (Persero), the government-owned operator of public railways in Indonesia, has reportedly suspended all its intercity train operations until May 31 and offered refunds for passengers who had already purchased tickets.
PM 25/2020 prohibits all passenger ships from travelling from or to PSSB areas. Deviating from the approach of providing refunds, sea transportation business entities may reschedule or reroute prohibited trips free of any additional charge. Port harbormasters and local port COVID-19 task forces will set up checkpoints at passenger terminals to monitor compliance. Administrative sanctions for sea transportation business entities violating this regulation range from a refusal of port services to the revocation of their sea transportation business license, known as a SIUPAL, in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations.
Exemptions apply for, among others, ships transporting commodities and medical essentials, Indonesian citizens returning from abroad, inter-island transportation for government and medical personnel, and ships servicing a single agglomeration of districts/regencies/provinces.
The temporary prohibition on air transportation applies to domestic flights, by both commercial and private aircraft, from and to PSBB areas and/or red zones. Affected airlines must offer a remedy for passengers who previously purchased tickets. Remedy options include rescheduling or rerouting flights, providing membership points equal to the nominal value of the ticket, providing ticket vouchers equivalent to the amount paid, and cash refunds. Violations of the regulation are subject to administrative sanction in the form of route permit revocation.
Consistent with other modes of transportation, exemptions apply to, among others, flights for high-level government officials and law enforcement and emergency services. As confirmed by the Director General of Air Transportation on April 23, 2020, air transportation to accelerate the mitigation and prevention of COVID-19 may continue to operate.
PM 25/2020 is an active response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia. It was enacted to control the movement of people, with the aim of preventing the further transmission of COVID-19. It may be premature to judge the effectiveness of PM 25/2020 in checking the spread of COVID-19 across Indonesia, but it appears off to a positive start, with the police and armed forces as of this writing returning more than 25,000 cars to their point of departure on the Java-Lampung route alone since the enactment of PM 25/2020. (May 7, 2020)
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