Bumpy going along Java's
damaged north coast roads

Nana Rukmana, The Jakarta Post, Cirebon

The sorry state of many of the roads along Java's northern coast has increased transportation costs and travel time, an official says.

Muhammad Sofyan, the head of the Bina Marga road construction office in Indramayu, West Java, said Wednesday the busy road network along the coast, particularly between Indramayu and Brebes, Central Java, was in need of major repairs. He said heavy rainfall along the coast and the many large trucks transporting heavy loads over the roads contributed to the damage.

He said large potholes slowed the flow of traffic between Indramayu and Cirebon, particularly the 40-kilometer Jatibarang-Palimanan section of road, the 20-kilometer Kertasemaya-Arjawinangun section and the 20 kilometers between Eretan and Patrol.

There are at least 86 kilometers of damaged road in Indramayu regency alone, with required repair work estimated to cost around Rp 4 billion (US$432,432), Sofyan said.

""The worst parts of the road can be found in Kandanghaur, Terisi and Araha,"" he said.

There is similar damage along the 60 kilometers of road between Cirebon and Brebes.

The Cirebon chapter of the Organization of Land Transportation Owners (Organda) has received numerous complaints from drivers and transportation owners about the roads and their negative impact on transportation costs.

""Besides increasing transportation time, the damaged roads are also hard on vehicles,"" Cirebon Organda head Iskandar Agus Bandji said.

Agus said truck owners were having to change their tires every two to three months instead of the normal six months because of the poor state of the roads, and that other parts like shock absorbers were also wearing out sooner.

""To resolve this problem, we want the central government to pay more attention to repairing the damaged sections of the most important road network on Java island,"" Agus said.

Traveling between Cirebon and Brebes along the coast, one frequently encounters potholes up to four centimeters in depth and a meter in width.

Despite the damage, along the entire 65 kilometers between Cirebon and Brebes there is currently no major repair work underway. The only work being done is the filling of some potholes with asphalt.

One truck driver, Awang, 32, said he often reached his delivery destinations up to two hours late because of being slowed by the poor roads.

He said traffic in the area was further slowed by nearby traditional markets that drew large crowds.

""During peak hours at the markets, you can be trapped in traffic jams for hours. This is a big burden because it costs us money,"" he said.

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