State-owned railway operator Kereta Api Indonesia is involved in a personal battle with military members who board trains without paying the fare.
Mateta Rizalulhaq, a spokesman for the company, said on Monday that KAI was working with the Indonesian Military (TNI) to crack down on fare-dodging soldiers.
“We sometimes carry out ticket inspections targeting TNI members,” Mateta said. “They [military members who ride the trains without paying] end up being punished by both KAI and the TNI.
“We drop them off at the next station or they have to pay twice the price of the original fare in order to stay on board.”
“I understand that the TNI also reprimands them but I have no idea what type of sanctions are imposed on offending soldiers,” he added.
Despite these assurances, news portal Republika Online reported that on the express service from Cirebon to Jakarta on Dec. 20 no action was taken by KAI inspectors conducting ticket checks.
According to the report, the inspectors were met with a mixture of reactions from around20 members of the military who had boarded the 6:15 a.m. train and were seated in the business-class section.
Some of them, according to the Republika report, attempted to cover up their military shirts with jackets when approached by inspectors.
The report further said that while some of the soldiers paid Rp 20,000 — well below the standard Cirebon business-class fare of Rp 55,000 — others refused to pay anything and instead attempted to challenge the KAI workers.
The rail inspectors ended up leaving those soldiers alone.
Mateta told the Jakarta Globe that KAI provided cheap tickets — up to 50 percent off — for members of the military.
“The TNI is responsible for informing its members of this fact, especially those soldiers who use the train as their main mode of transportation,” he said.
“We actually have a list of which TNI members take the train regularly,” he added. “Based on our data and their ID cards, we are happy to provide these soldiers with a discount.”
Mateta said he expected members of the military would be prepared to pay for their tickets.
“Considering they are from the military, the value of discipline is constantly drilled into them,” he said.
According to the Republika report, Hendi Helmy, a KAI spokesman in Cirebon, said that each week many military members failed to pay the fare before boarding trains, and that his staff was often powerless to confront them.
The railway operator recorded a net profit of Rp 154.8 billion ($17 million) last year from a loss of Rp 87.5 billion in 2008, according to its Web site