The Jakarta Post
The government and the Jakarta administration are in a dispute over the reported mismanagement of Pulo Gebang bus terminal in East Jakarta, at a time when Jakartans are gearing up for the Idul Fitri exodus starting next week.
Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said the mismanagement had led to the return of illegal bus terminals around Pulo Gebang terminal, touted the biggest bus terminal in Southeast Asia when it opened in 2016, which had financially hurt private bus operators.
After receiving complaints from several bus operators who claimed that they were losing passengers because of the unofficial bus terminals, Budi made a strong statement and claimed he would take over the management of the integrated terminal if the city ignored the problem.
“I will send a letter to the city, if they do nothing about it, we will take over [the management of the terminal],” Budi said on May 17 as quoted by kompas.com.
In the meantime, Budi asked the bus operators not to leave the intercity and interprovince Pulo Gebang terminal while the problem was being resolved.
Illegal bus terminals usually emerge to cater to passengers who want to find the easiest way to deal with public transportation.
Bus operator PO Nusantara claimed it had suffered losses because of the unofficial bus terminals.
“We only used to depart from Pulo Gebang. Now we have to take passengers from Lebak Bulus [in South Jakarta] and Kalideres [in West Jakarta] bus terminals too,” its representative, Tini, said as quoted by tempo.co on Sunday.
Rudi from bus operator PO Kramat Djati echoed Tini, saying he saw fewer passengers every year. He assumed that the passengers preferred taking unofficial buses.
Separately, Jakarta Transportation Agency acting head Sigit Wijatmoko denied Minister Budi’s accusation, saying “the fact is, there are no unofficial bus terminals in Pulo Gebang.”
He cited data collected by the agency showing that Pulo Gebang bus terminal had seen an increasing number of passengers since the end of 2018.
“From January to April this year, Pulo Gebang bus terminal served 520,516 passengers. Throughout 2018, there were 861,138 passengers that departed from or arrived at the terminal,” he said on Sunday, tempo.co reported.
He confidently claimed that the increase was because of rising trust from passengers in the terminal.
Sigit mentioned that according to route permits issued by the Transportation Ministry, there were 180 bus operators that were allowed to operate at the Pulo Gebang bus terminal.
However, Sigit said only 96 bus operators were active and the agency had recently banned 12 from selling tickets for violating certain rules. The violations included charging passengers more than the actual ticket fare and not dropping passengers at a specified destination.
The ban, according to Sigit, showed that the agency had been very strict to ensure service quality at the Pulo Gebang bus terminal was in accordance with regulations.
Besides closing the ticket booths of several bus operators, the agency had also banned 892 buses from operating for committing serious violations. Some buses deviated from set routes while others were not roadworthy.
Besides enforcing sanctions, the agency also reported on the 892 buses to the ministry. However, Sigit said the ministry had only frozen the operational permits of three buses.
“We have to be strict in order to create a deterrent effect,” he said.
Sigit, however, preferred to see Budi’s statement as a challenge. “This is a challenge for us to improve our service, especially ahead of Idul Fitri this year,” he said. (vla)