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Jakarta accidents spark public transport concerns

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Mask-wearing passengers ride a Transjakarta bus on Jalan MH Thamrin Road in Central Jakarta on April 6, 2020. THE JAKARTA POST

Jakarta accidents spark public transport concerns

A pair of accidents involving a trial run of Greater Jakarta LRT trains and, separately, two Transjakarta buses has spotlighted safety concerns over public transportation in Jakarta, just as the hustle and bustle of Indonesia’s capital returns following a drop in Covid-19 cases.

The first accident happened on the morning of October 25 at Cawang Ciliwung Transjakarta bus stop on Jalan MT Haryono Road in East Jakarta. A bus arriving at the stop crashed into the back of another bus that was in the process of dropping off passengers.

The driver of the arriving bus and a passenger died at the scene, while 37 others suffered minor and major injuries.

Jakarta Police traffic unit law enforcement head Adjutant Senior Commissioner Argo Wiyono said the preliminary investigation revealed that the bus was travelling at around 55km/h before the collision happened and it showed no signs of slowing down.

“We found no skid marks leading up to the scene of the crash to indicate braking. The driver of the moving bus just went straight into the other bus that was unloading passengers and dragged it 17m along the road,” Argo said on October 25 as reported by kompas.com.

He added that a more thorough investigation was under way to determine the exact cause of the accident and whether it was caused by human error or mechanical failure.

Transportation expert Leksmono Suryo Putranto from Tarumanegara University said that the absence of brake marks could be a strong indicator that the collision was caused by a distracted or sleeping driver.

“Transjakarta drivers work both morning shifts and night shifts [throughout the week] without any day off in between to adjust their sleeping cycle. These inconsistent working hours could disrupt their circadian rhythm and cause them to feel drowsy at the wheel,” Leksmono told the Jakarta Post on October 27.

To prevent similar accidents from happening in the future, he urged the Transjakarta operator to better schedule its drivers’ working hours so that they have time to adjust their sleeping cycles.

Just a few hours after the Transjakarta crash, another accident occurred in Cipayung in East Jakarta on a Greater Jakarta LRT line connecting Harjamukti Station in Depok, West Java, and Ciracas Station in East Jakarta.

An LRT car crashed into a parked train during a trial run.

According to Budi Noviantoro, president director of state-owned train manufacturer PT Industri Kereta Api (Inka), an engineer was about to move train number 29 from the tracks to the Railway Testing Centre near Harjamukti Station. Train 29 was heading to Harjamukti when it crashed into train number 20, which was in a static position.

“There is an indication of human error,” Budi said. “The initial indication is that the driver exceeded the standard speed limit at the time of the move.”

He went on to say that the trains were not carrying any passengers but the moving train was driven by an Inka engineer, who was hospitalised with minor injuries.

He said that the Greater Jakarta LRT was set to continue operational trials, however the company would wait for the results of the National Transportation Safety Committee’s (KNKT) investigation before halting the trial process.

“Once the KNKT finishes its investigation, we will bring the train cars back here and we will repair them. Maybe some components are still intact. If not, we will purchase them again, no problem,” said Budi.

The results of the KNKT’s investigation present a potential setback to the roughly 29.9 trillion rupiah ($2.1 billion) project slated to begin operating in July 2022.

House of Representatives Speaker Puan Maharani urged authorities to conduct thorough investigations into both incidents to maintain commuters’ faith in public transportation.

“This is especially important for the Greater Jakarta LRT, as its services are expected to help reduce traffic congestion in Jakarta after it starts operation. We don’t want public trust in the LRT to wane just because of a crash during a trial run,” Puan said in a statement on October 26.

Both the LRT and the Transjakarta accidents occurred shortly after Covid-19 restrictions were eased in Jakarta following continuous reductions in the number of infections.

Last week the government eased the prevailing public activity restrictions (PPKM) in the capital city to level 2, the second-lowest of the four-tiered system.

Offices in nonessential sectors are now allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity, from the previous 25 per cent. Parks have also reopened for the public.

Transjakarta buses are now permitted to fill all their seats. Previously, they were only allowed to operate at 75 per cent capacity.

THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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