Mob blockades toll road over closure of illegal bus station
Paper Edition | Page: 9
Hundreds of people blockaded the toll road serving Jakarta-Bekasi near the Jatibening toll road entrance and set a pickup, owned by state toll road operator PT Jasa Marga, on fire on Friday morning. They were protesting the company’s decision to shut down an illegal bus depot in the area.
The mobs were reportedly enraged after PT Jasa Marga erected fences at 8th kilometer of the toll road to prevent buses from illegally picking up and dropping off passengers, long blamed for traffic problems in the areas.
The Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said that the angry mob was composed of local residents and those who benefited from the illegal terminal: motorcycle taxi drivers and street vendors.
PT Jasa Marga, according to Rikwanto, built the fences around 2 a.m. Only a few hours later, when commuters were about to go to work, they found out that they could no longer wait there for buses to
“As more people gathered and found fences had been built there, they were upset and that led to rally which started around 5 a.m.,” he said.
The enraged mob then burnt a pick-up owned by PT Jasa Marga at around 5:30 a.m. and occupied the toll road for hours.
As a result, traffic congestion occurred along the road up to km-16 around East Bekasi, and in Jakarta Outer Ring Road and along Jl. Kalimalang.
Rikwanto said that the police sent 450 officers to control the situation but the rally could not be stopped until 8:30 a.m. following negotiations between Jakarta Police deputy chief Brig. Gen. Suhardi Alius, Bekasi Police chief Sr. Comr. Priyo Widianto and community leaders.
Rikwanto said that representatives from PT Jasa Marga were not present during the negotiation for safety reasons.
“Police and community leaders then agreed to take down the fence. However, for PT Jasa Marga to operate according to regulations and for people to retain their transportation access, further talks between stakeholders are needed,” he said.
Rikwanto said that people were furious at PT Jasa Marga’s decision to build a fence there without notifying them.
“People have used the bus stop since 1987. Until 2010, there was a toll gate nearby so it did not matter if people boarded the bus there,” he said.
When the gate was closed, Rikwanto said, people had no other option but to stop the bus inside the toll road as no alternative was provided by the state-owned company. “Going to the bus terminal is too troublesome and too far for people living in the area.”
As the rally was unplanned and spontaneous, Rikwanto said that the police did not plan to arrest anyone suspected of orchestrating the rally.
However, he said that the police were conducting an investigation to find those responsible for the car burning.
The illegal bus depot has caused many problems for the toll road operator. PT Jasa Marga claims that despite the prohibition, more than 900 buses stop in the area both from Bekasi and Jakarta between 6:00 a.m and 2:00 p.m each day — around 25 buses every five minutes — which leads to further congestion.
In the wake of the incident, PT Jasa Marga director Adityawarman said that the company would try to find a solution to allow passengers embark and disembark without violating regulations.
“We have discussed the matter with Bekasi regent and we have agreed to provide a special line in the area for Jakarta-Bekasi buses to to pick up passengers outside the toll road,” he said as quoted by kompas.com.
Adityawarman said that the line will enable buses to cut off the toll road to a nearby artery road and re-enter the toll road without being charged again.
PT Jasa Marga will also turn a tow truck depot at 8th kilometer into a special bus stop point. (aml)