Indonesian Govt to Check Improvements to Transport Safety

The Jakarta Globe

The transportation safety body announced on Tuesday that it would establish a team to monitor how recommendations on improving road, rail, sea and air safety were being implemented.

Tatang Kurniadi, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT), said his office had investigated 36 transportation accidents throughout this year on which it issued 103 recommendations to the relevant authorities.

He said the new team charged with checking the follow-up to those recommendations would likely be formed early next year.

“We want to reduce the number of transportation accidents, whether in the aviation, maritime, railway or road sectors,” Tatang said.

There have been 47,852 reported transportation accidents so far this year, according to the KNKT, down from 63,219 in 2009. The death toll from these accidents year-to-date also fell, to 14,584 from 20,323 last year.

The KNKT, which operates under the authority of the Transportation Ministry, has investigated 168 accidents to date since 2007, accounting for a combined death toll of 1,095.

Tatang said those investigations had yielded 597 recommendations that had been forwarded to the Transportation Ministry, the civil aviation directorate, regional administrations, the National Police and transportation operators.

“Unfortunately, we’ve found that only 40 percent of those recommendations have been followed up on and implemented by the authorities,” he said. “Those adopting them are usually only the transportation operators, regional transportation agencies or regional administrations.”

He said that all recommendation issued by the KNKT were legally binding under the 1992 Aviation Law and the 2007 Railway Law. “Therefore, we see the need for a team to monitor whether the recommendations are being acted on,” Tatang said.

Bambang Ervan, a spokesman for the Transportation Ministry, blamed the slow adoption of the KNKT’s recommendations on bureaucracy and lack of funding to carry out the proposed changes.

“For instance, take the recommendation that railway infrastructure and facilities must be improved,” he said. “To replace the tracks and train cars, we first need to apply for funding from the central government, and that takes a long time to approve. That’s why we’re often forced to delay implementing the recommendations from the KNKT.”

Tatang said it was important for the authorities to act quickly, given that the main cause of railway, maritime and aviation accidents was technical error. By contrast, the leading cause of road accidents is human error.

“It has to be stressed that our investigations aren’t targeted at identifying the culprit behind the accident and bringing them to justice,” Tatang said. “What we’re ultimately looking for is what happened, how did it happen and why was it allowed to happen.”

He said this meant the team to be set up next year would not have the power to fine or otherwise punish officials who failed to implement the recommendations, “although there’s a law that provides for that,” he added.

Danang Parikesit, chairman of the nongovernmental Indonesian Transportation Society (MTI), lauded the idea of forming a monitoring team, saying it would help ensure lasting improvements to safety policies.

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