The Jakarta Post
The hard work of railway operator PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) to improve the quality of its services in the capital and its surrounding cities deserves appreciation now that it has started to bear fruit, as evident in the growing number of urban workers who rely on trains for their daily transport.
However, the state-owned company cannot ignore the fate of thousands of people who have lost their source of revenue following the removal of their kiosks at many train stations.
It is not surprising that demolition of some 175 kiosks at Duri railway station in West Jakarta ignited a clash between security officers and vendors. Previously, a similar incident occurred when vendors in Depok station, West Java, resisted removal of their kiosks.
The management of PT KAI had long accommodated vendors to run their business, by allowing them to occupy kiosks inside railway stations in Jakarta and its satellite cities. The company even let vendors, street singers and beggars operate inside low cost trains.
The presence of vendors, street singers and beggars not only deprived passengers of a comfortable train journey, but also reduced the space for people wishing to use train services. Moreover, the low awareness among traders and non-passengers about health and hygiene contributed much to the messy and dirty appearance of many train stations. Some traders even cut fences at certain stations just to facilitate their business.
Therefore, the removal of the kiosks is understandable because it is part of PT KAI's bid to enhance the quality of its services and convenience for passengers.
To lure more passengers, the operator will continuously increase its fleet. The company expects the number of passengers to grow to 1.2 million in 2019 from 500,000 at present. If this happens, the burden on Jakarta roads will significantly ease.
Despite the weaknesses, commuter train lines have emerged as the most reliable public transportation for people living and working in Greater Jakarta. Since April 1, the commuter train has managed to increase the number of journeys to 699 from 514 journeys per day, due to improvement measures.
Together with Transjakarta busway, PT Commuter Jabodetabek now forms the backbone of the public transportation service in Greater Jakarta. The better the quality of both transportation services, the more people will use them and leave their private vehicles at home. Daily traffic congestion no longer symbolizes the wealth of a city but its path to disaster.
However, despite the noble intention of PT KAI to improve the quality of its services, the railway operator should be held responsible for the impact of its stringent policy on people affected, such as vendors. It would be wise for PT KAI to give priority to existing vendors to resume business provided that they follow the new rules of the game.
Like other companies, PT KAI needs to prove its commitment to corporate social responsibility so that no one will be left behind or fall victim to the railway station renovation program.
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