Government speeds up Pantura roadworks

With the Idul Fitri holiday less than two months away, the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry is speeding up roadwork projects along Java's northern coast (Pantura) to ensure that the road will be in perfect condition ahead of the festive period.

The director of the ministry's Bina Marga road agency, Adriananda, said on Tuesday that the Pantura repairs had reached 97 per cent and would be completed before the fasting month starts in mid June.

"The bottleneck usually occurs in West Java, but the Cikampek-Palimanan toll road's construction progress has reached 99 per cent and by the time we operate it, it will ease the traffic jams in West Java," Adriananda said after a press briefing at the Transportation Ministry.

According to him, three toll road projects across Java - the Cikampek-Palimanan road (West Java), the first and second section of the Pejagan-Pemalang road (Central Java) and the Gempol-Pandaan road (East Java) - would be ready to cater to homebound travelers during the Idul Fitri holiday in mid July.

The 116-kilometer long Cikampek-Palimanan toll road is expected to reduce traffic jams along Pantura by 50 per cent.

Data from the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry shows that the 58-kilometer long Pejagan-Pemalang toll road's construction progress has reached 40 per cent and two sections of the toll road would be able to accommodate the homebound travelers.

Meanwhile the construction of the Gempol-Pandaan toll road has reached 100 per cent and it is currently awaiting its official inauguration.

The Transportation Ministry estimates the number of homebound travelers using public transportation, including air carriers, sea transportation, road transportation and also trains, will reach around 20 million people during this year's Idul Fitri, a two per cent increase from 17.4 million people recorded last year.

The traffic usually peaks three days prior to and after Idul Fitri, which will fall on July 17.

The number of homebound travelers traveling along Pantura using private cars and motorcycles is estimated to reach 4.2 million this year, increased 7.5 per cent from last year.

In a bid to help smooth the flow of the annual exodus, the Transportation Ministry would also provide free transportation for motorcyclists, to lessen the number of motorcycle accidents.

The ministry will provide trains, trucks, buses and ships to transport both motorcycles and travelers from Jakarta to the country's main cities in Central and East Java, among other places. The ministry said that the service would initially be available for around 22,000 motorcycles and 34,000 people this year.

Separately, the Transportation Ministry's director general for air transportation, Suprasetyo, said that several airlines including Garuda Indonesia's low cost arm Citilink, as well as Sriwijaya Air and Sriwijaya Air's sister company NAM Air, had requested to operate extra flights for the holiday.

"Citilink has requested an additional 15 flights, Sriwijaya has requested 13 flights, meanwhile Nam Air two extra flights, connecting Jakarta and several cities in Java such as Solo, Yogyakarta and Denpasar," Suprasetyo said.

"The deadline for flight approval is three days prior to the chosen day for an extra flight," he added.

According to the ministry, the number of train carriages to serve homebound travelers will be increased from 1,543 to 1,567 this year, while the number of ships will reach 183.