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Jakarta Post

COVID-19: 1.3 million people may leave Greater Jakarta for 'mudik', observer says

  • Alya Nurbaiti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, April 14, 2020   /   08:44 pm
COVID-19: 1.3 million people may leave Greater Jakarta for 'mudik', observer says Passengers wait at the Pondok Pinang bus terminal in Jakarta before getting on a bus that would take them to their hometowns on Friday. Many people have returned to their hometowns from Jakarta despite the government advising against doing so as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. (Antara/Reno Esnir)

A projected 1.3 million people from Greater Jakarta will return to their hometowns for the annual Idul Fitri mudik (exodus), according to the Indonesian Transportation Society (MTI), potentially fueling the spread of COVID-19.

“According to the Transportation Ministry, 900,000 [non-Greater Jakarta natives] have already returned to their hometowns, while 2.6 million have stayed,” MTI head Agus Taufik Mulyono said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

He added that around half of the remaining 2.6 million people were civil servants who were officially prohibited from participating in this year's mudik by Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister Tjahjo Kumolo. 

“We believe that another 1.3 million people may go home."

Citing economic considerations, the government has not prohibited mudik for the general public but has repeatedly advised against traveling during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Central Java, Yogyakarta, East Java and West Java could be the new outbreak epicenter if the government persists with its decision not to ban mudik,” Agus said.

He called on the government to issue an official ban to prevent the further spread of the virus, adding that it should also distribute cash allowances and staple food as compensation for those who chose to stay in Greater Jakarta instead of returning home.

He said that regional administrations would bear the social and economical burden if the central government did not outright ban mudik.

"If it’s just an appeal, it won’t work,” he said.

Indonesia has recorded 4,839 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday, 2,335 of which are in Jakarta.