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Two-wheel apocalypse: Motorcyclists pass Jl. M. Hasibuan in Bekasi, West Java, during last year’s reverse Idul Fitri exodus to Jakarta. Several local motorcyclists say they are ready to get on the road home for the holiday, despite more than 4,000 accidents involving two-wheeled recorded last year. (JP/P.J. Leo)
As citizens start to leave the capital, heading to their hometowns to celebrate the Idul Fitri holiday with their families, the Jakarta administration gave assurances that the city will not sleep on its watch.
The City Fire Agency and Public Works Agency said they would have officers on standby throughout the holiday.
Fire Agency chief Paimin Napitupulu said officers would be ready around the clock.
“As ordered by the governor, we will monitor the city 24/7, especially in areas known for their vulnerability to fire,” Paimin said.
The agency has identified 53 areas across the five municipalities well known for fires, including Tambora and Pademangan in West Jakarta, Penjaringan and Cilincing in North Jakarta, and Cipinang and Cakung in East Jakarta.
A total of 530 fires were recorded between January and July this year, which together have claimed 31 lives and caused losses estimated at more than Rp 172.4 billion (US$18.2 million), higher than last year’s numbers during the same period.
Paimin also reminded citizens to check electrical wiring before leaving their homes because around 70 percent of the fires since the start of the year, have been caused by short circuits.
“We are also asking local branches of state utility company PT PLN to actively check for illegal electrical connections,” he said.
More than 40 percent of Jakarta residents, especially those in low-income, densely populated areas, are connected to the city’s electrical grid via illegal connections.
Fires in these neighborhoods are notoriously difficult to handle, as houses tend to be closely packed and made from flammable materials. They also lack access to hydrants or other water sources.
Separately, deputy chief of the City Public Works Agency Tarjuki said that agency officials were staying alert at floodgates and major pumps, despite weather forecasts that there was only a small chance of rain.
“All monitoring posts will be on standby. We are ready to respond to any emergency,” Tarjuki said, adding that if need be officials on holiday would be called in.
The agency manages a total of 344 pumps, 55 dams and reservoir, 93 floodgates, and 51 monitoring posts.
The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency, however, gave assurances that the sky would be clear throughout the weekend.
“There’s a possibility of light rain, but it won’t affect large areas of Jakarta, Bogor and Tangerang. Bekasi and Depok will likely see a few light clouds,” said Hari Tirto Jatmiko, weather agency spokesman.
More than 7 million Jakartans are expected to leave the capital to celebrate this year’s Idul Fitri in their hometowns, in what some cite as one of the world’s largest annual migrations.
The administration predicts that the majority of people who join the exodus, more than 5.9 million, will use their own vehicles, leaving around 1.3 million using public transportation.
Of private vehicles user, 4.4 million are expected to use cars and 1.5 million motorcycles.
Although the administration urges travelers not to use motorcycles to go to their hometowns, numbers have increased in the past years.
Idul Fitri holidays, which mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadhan, is expected to fall on Aug. 19 and 20.