Indonesia capital gears up for post-holiday flow amid virus

Indonesia capital gears up for post-holiday flow amid virus

Red cross staff wearing protective suits spray disinfectant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease in Jakarta, Indonesia on Sunday. (Reuters photo)
Red cross staff wearing protective suits spray disinfectant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease in Jakarta, Indonesia on Sunday. (Reuters photo)

Indonesia’s capital Jakarta is anticipating 1 million vehicles will enter the city as people return from Eid al-Fitr holidays in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Traffic, including motorcycles, is projected to peak from Saturday to Monday, according to a Cabinet Secretariat statement. While the figure is lower compared to the 2.8 million vehicles recorded last year, the flow of so many travellers is raising concern as the number of coronavirus cases grow in the country.

The government has called on citizens to delay their return to curb the spread of the pathogen, and is increasing monitoring and setting up patrols at many checkpoints, Transport Ministry spokeswoman Adita Irawati said in the statement. Similar measures are also implemented at seaports and airports over fears of a new wave of infections.

The ministry extended the post-holiday traffic management until June 7 following an instruction issued by the nation’s Covid-19 task force, Irawati said in a separate statement. That will in turn phased out the flow of traffic returning to the capital over the next week instead of cramping them through Sunday. “The ministry will ensure vehicles monitoring and controlling on the ground and that only people who meet criteria and requirement able to travel,” she said.

Indonesia now has the highest coronavirus death toll in Southeast Asia, with 1,573 people succumbing to the disease as of Saturday. New cases have more than doubled in May, with the total reaching 25,773.

Indonesia President Joko Widodo last month banned the annual ritual of citizens traveling in large numbers to their hometowns and villages ahead of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, which took place May 24-25, but many people managed to travel via unguarded back roads. Monday is also a holiday in Indonesia, and many travellers delay their return until after Eid al-Fitr.

Roughly one out of every eight Indonesians head home ahead of the holidays. An estimated 19.5 million people travelled to their hometowns from big cities like Jakarta during last year’s Eid, official data show.


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