The Jakarta Post
The government has pledged to allocate Rp 1 trillion (US$74.9 million) over the next five years to procure small traditional and modern boats to enhance inter-island transportation.
Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said that the move was meant to increase the connectivity between people on neighboring islands.
"We would like to have the program to procure traditional boats co-jointly carried out through cooperation with the local governments,” he said Wednesday.
A small traditional boat with a capacity of 100 people costs about Rp 1 billion.
Meanwhile, the ministry would also provided subsidies for operators of modern boats or ferries within five years, Budi said.
Apart from subsidies for physical facilities, the government would also aim to improve the capabilities of sea transportation personnel, about 50,000 boat crew members nationwide, through a two-week course, he added.
The moves would be among the ministry's efforts to standardize the public boat services that connect islands in the sprawling archipelago, which has more than 17,000.
So far, the services have been mostly carried out without compliance to safety and security standards.
Earlier this month, the KM Zahro Express boat with more than 200 passengers on board caught fire on its way to Tidung Island, Thousand Islands, Jakarta.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) reported 23 passengers were killed while 17 people got injured during the accident. In all, 194 passengers survived, but another 17 are still missing. (lnd)