Train Fare Bump Gets Jeers From Commuters


Train Fare Bump Gets Jeers From Commuters

Ahead of a planned fare increase, angry commuters are calling for state-run railway firm Kereta Api Indonesia to cut prices on its trains serving the Greater Jakarta area, and the company appears to be listening. 

KAI subsidiary Kereta Jabodetabek Commuter said last month that it would stop running expensive express trains in favor of more economy-class ones in the hopes of increasing ridership. 

After already being delayed in March, the new plan is set be implemented on Saturday. However, many area residents who rely on the train have expressed anger over the company’s decision to do away with express trains while increasing the cost of an economy-class ticket, which currently runs commuters Rp 1,500 to Rp 4,500 (17 cents to 52 cents). 

The new fares could go as high as Rp 9,000. That anger has prompted KAI to rethink its fare increases with an eye toward making them less severe, spokesman Mateta Rijalulhaq said. 

“We have decided to reduce the train fare to a reasonable rate that can be accepted by the public and can help finance the company’s operating costs at the same time,” he said.  

“The Jakarta-Bogor route, for instance, will be reduced from Rp 9,000 to Rp 7,000, or Jakarta-Depok from Rp 8,000 to Rp 6,000.  The slight drop in price is doing little to appease commuters, who welcome paying a higher fare to ride in greater comfort and speed. 

“I take a KRL Express train to get to Jakarta faster than I would in a bus or in my own car. The new pricing system, which implemented one single fare and stopovers in every station, is both really inefficient and yet very expensive,” said Angga Setiawan, 28, a Bogor resident. 

He expressed frustration that he would be forced to spend longer amounts of time on his daily train commute while paying more for what he said was the same old economy-class. 

Tickets for the air-conditioned express trains range from Rp 4,500 to Rp 11,000 depending on the route. Express service trains  also stop at just a few stations, unlike economy-class trains. 

Rosita Primandari, 18, an economy passenger from Bekasi, said that despite KAI’s announcement, the higher fare would still increase her financial burden heavily. 

“I do not take the express train. I use the economy class, for which I only pay Rp 1,500, but I heard the new train fare will be raised to as much as Rp 6,000. I need to ask more money from my parents then,” she said. 

Indah Anggraini, a regular rider from Depok, voiced concern that despite the higher fares, mechanical problems resulting in long delays would still continue to plague the railways trains. 

KAI operates three classes of commuter train services between Jakarta and its satellite cities of Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi.  

The two cheaper ones, served by economy and air-conditioned economy trains, stop at every station along the route.  

The third, the express service, stops at just a few stations and is the most expensive, enjoyed by upper middle-class workers across Greater Jakarta popular The new fares will be implemented by July 2.

”Express train ticket prices will be reduced once the express trains are converted to economy class. In addition to the poor service and inconsistent pricing policy, the company is also short of railway cars to accommodate hundreds of thousands of commuting passengers everyday, said Indah Anggraini, 33, who lives in Depok. 

“Many people know that economy train often encounters mechanical problems and we have to wait for over half an hour until it moves again. If we pay for the same amount of money but we do not get a better service, I will say that it is not fair at all,” she said. 

“Therefore, it might be better if the government adds more fleet.” With more trains as backup, the company will always have a replacement when one train is broken and need to be repaired, she said. 

“With more fleets, if there is a problem, it can be solved easily.” 

Southern Central Java Quake Panic

Southern Central Java Quake Panic

A magnitude-7.1 earthquake rocked the southern coast of Central Java in the early hours of Monday causing widespread panic but no reported damage, officials said.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said the quake, centered some 10 kilometers under the ocean floor 293 kilometers southwest of Cilacap, hit at 3:06 a.m.

A tsunami warning was issued, but was lifted about one hour later.

“It has caused panic among the local residents, who were trying to save themselves by running to the nearest higher place,” National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.  

Images broadcast on television stations such as SCTV showed people in the port town of Cilacap pouring out of their homes and congregating in streets, as well as crowding into and around the city’s bus station, which is located on high ground.

According to Agence France-Presse, when the quake struck, residents fled inland to higher ground by vehicle and on foot.

“They were all panicking and shouting ‘quake, quake,’ ” an AFP reporter noted.

State new agency Antara reported that thousands of residents of surrounding Cilacap district, which suffered 147 deaths in the wake of the devastating 2004 tsunami, also panicked and fled to safety.

“The minute I knew it was an earthquake, I immediately left the house. The more so as the television showed a message that it carried a tsunami risk,” said Kaem, 43, who fled with his wife and three children to higher ground from Bunto village.

BNPB spokesman Sutopo said the temblor was also felt in the neighboring West Java districts of Tasikmalaya, Garut, Ciamis, Sukabumi and Cianjur, but that there were no reports of damage or deaths.

“But as there were no aftershocks following the magnitude 7.1 earthquake, residents then returned to their houses,” he said.

Meanwhile, Doddy Ruswandi, the deputy for emergency operations at the BNPB, said that there had been one death.

“The one death was actually not directly caused by the earthquake, but because he had suffered from a heart attack.”

At least 60 earthquakes of a magnitude higher than 5.0 have struck Indonesia so far this year. 

Spiritual caretaker of Indonesian volcano dies


Spiritual caretaker of Indonesian volcano dies

Slamet Riyadi

MOUNT MERAPI, Indonesia — He was the keeper of Mount Merapi – an 83-year-old man entrusted to watch over the volcano’s spirits, believing it could be appeased by tossing offerings of rice, chickens and flowers into the gaping crater.

And when the eruption came, Maridjan was among those who died, along with dozens of villagers who believed him, not seismologists or government officials, about the danger.

As Merapi began spewing 1,800-degree gases and thousands of panicked people streamed down the mountain’s slopes, Maridjan refused to budge from his home deep in the evacuation zone, just four miles from the crater.

His rigid body was found Wednesday, prostrate in the Islamic prayer position and caked in heavy white soot. Nearby was an Indonesian Red Cross volunteer who had been trying to persuade him to leave.

“I never thought he was going to leave us in such a way,” said Prabukusumo, whose brother, the sultan in the nearby court city of Yogyakarta, is now tasked with choosing Maridjan’s successor.

“He’s lived through so many, much bigger eruptions. I’m still in shock.”

On Thursday, politicians, soap opera stars and singers were among hundreds of people who flocked to Maridjan’s funeral on the fertile slopes of the mountain entrusted to his care by a late king. Televisions crews and reporters jostled for position with family and friends, who reached to touch the white silk-covered coffin as it was carried to the grave.

Mourners knelt to pray as the body, wrapped in a simple white cloth, was lowered into the ground. Led by his weeping wife, they tossed pink and white flower petals, then covered it with soil and piled cut orchids on the mound.

One of the world’s most active volcanos, Merapi is located on the so-called “Ring of Fire,” a series of fault lines prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and Southeast Asia.

When he was 50, Maridjan was named “key holder” of the mountain, inheriting the position from his father.

For 33 years, the diminutive man with an impish smile led ceremonies meant to hold back Merapi’s lava flows and quiet the spirits he and other villagers believe live over the mountain that rises from the heart of the Indonesian island of Java.

The mystical practice persists in Indonesia, even though most of the country’s 237 million people – like Maridjan himself – are Muslims. Islam is a relatively new arrival to the country and coexists with older traditions that have their roots in animist, Hindu or Buddhist beliefs.

Maridjan was believed by many to have the ability to speak directly to the volcano, and fellow villagers considered him a hero, trusting his word over local authorities when it came to determining danger levels – with deadly consequences on Tuesday.

“Maridjan was very conscientious in performing his duties. But because he was a role model, many other victims died when the explosion happened because they still stayed in the village,” said his brother, Wignyo Suprapto.

“They thought that everything would be safe because Maridjan did not leave.”

He enjoyed a kind of celebrity and just days before the deadly explosion, Maridjan joked with camera crews following him from his mosque in the village of Kinahrejo to his thatched-roof home. Walking barefoot on a dirt road, he teasingly covered his face with his hands.

He was said to have predicted his end, telling a friend who urged him to evacuate: “My time to die in this place has almost come.”

But far from serving as a cautionary tale, Maridjan’s death has made many villagers only yearn for his quick replacement.

“I’m more afraid than ever,” said Prapto Wiyono, a 60-year-old farmer who was among thousands of people crammed in emergency shelters. “Who’s going to tell us now what’s going on with Merapi?”


Associated Press reporters Andi Jatmiko and Elisabeth Oktofani contributed to this report from Mount Merapi.

An Allegory from Gangga Island


A fisherman was on the way home

An outboard engine was started by a fisherman, its rattle breaking the morning. One after the other, boats are moving, making a line, moving in the foreground as the sun appears from behind the horizon. It is 6 am. The island is still quiet as the fishing boats pass from view and out of sound. Sometimes a late sleeping fisherman disturbs the peace again as he makes his way across the coats to catch up with the fleet. This is a unique stage portrait of Minahasan life which is passing by me as I am enjoying the early morning tropical breeze by the beach on Gangga Island. Gangga Island is an isolated white sand beach destination in 150 hectares of natural garden setting 3 kilometers north of the coast of North Sulawesi. Minahasa is one of the races in North Sulawesi.

Subsequent to having breakfast, I am getting ready to explore the world under water by catching the boat to one of the snorkeling spots. I am sure, it will be an excellent experience, as this area is the part of the world’s Coral Triangle. However, I am not going diving but I am just going snorkeling.

Surrounded by the silence of the island, I walk down to the wharf, where a sexy locally made boat has been waiting for our group.

“Hello, good morning. How are you?” said Ayoub, a Minahasan boat crew, greeting us with a friendly smile before we get into the boat. The engine comes to life and we are ready to sail to the waters of neighboring Tindila Island.

Moving further away from Gangga Island, leaving a trail of bubbles which disappear into the sea after only a few second we reach the snorkeling spot above a reef tinged in light blue after only ten minutes sailing.

While we are waiting patiently to jump into the water, we are given some guidance by Anton, the snorkeling guide, which must be listened to for our safety under water. Afterwards, one by one, my group slips over the side into the sea.

“Wow! This is wonderful” I say to myself. It is so beautiful and so different with the world above water in which I live. I feel as though I am flying freely like an Alap-alap hawk in the air, watching the fish peacefully lead their lives in an around the reef.

I can see a blue star fish, which look so calm and still, gumming itself to the ground. Or, over there, there’s an active small blue fish with a yellow tail. They call them Chrysiptera parasema, which like to move here and there. Pretty clouds of fish of many varieties swim all around me. On one occasion, Anton shows us where hundreds or might be thousands of fish are moving here and there in a large group. “It is indeed a wonderful world of fish.”

They are magnificent. They look like a great group of human being who want to move somewhere, whether because they feel panic or excitement as we approach them.

I don’t know how to describe this beautiful life under the water, although it is my job to. An amazing natural ecosystem seemingly without any human touch upon it. However I can see part of the coral that has been bombed. Destroyed and dead. A sign that our fishermen once used dynamite instead of their nets and their talent. But local government, cooperating with the community are working together to restore these broken fish reef homes and preserve coral ecosystem. It is a great chance that I have to be here. On a clear sunny day, I am exploring the world under waters around the Tindila Island for more than an hour. But, unfortunately, we must finish our trespassing because suddenly the currents bring a sea covered in garbage.

“It is strange that so much rubbish is floating in this area. The local government should have taken an action to keep this environment clean. Well, not just the government actually, but also the local people and passing ships who throw the garbage in the sea.” Tommy Davis, a Canadian tourist, who is disappointed with the floating garbage.

The garbage forces us to stop snorkeling, and after a short break on Tindila Island for few minutes before we sail back to Gangga Island.

Once again, I would say that this is a special part of the world. But the occasional wave of rubbish atop the sea almost ruins a spectacular setting; however there is more to see. The blue water, the tropical rain forest, the local fisherman and the underwater world are just part of a unique isolated paradise off the north coast of North Sulawesi.

While wondering about the secrets of this little island, Anton and Ayoub circumnavigate Gangga Island. In only 150 ha, this island has just two villages. Comically named Gangga Satu and Gangga Dua. From the boat, I can tell that Gangga Satu and Gangga Dua are two very different villages but similar at the same time. Different in how the way they build and develop their fishermen village and facilities. But both remain undeveloped and poor. Interestingly, one is noticeable for its several mosques, and the other two Church spires. While a handful of motorbikes busied themselves on the seafront one could not see any vehicles.

However, Gangga Satu is a slightly more developed village, where an environment friendly resort, “Gangga Island”, was built and developed. As the only resort on the Gangga Island, it trains and employs members of the local community. It reminds me of a conversation that I had with Hanne Harbol, General Manager of Gangga Island, last night, in which she said that they are seeking to preserve the environment both human and natural. “We have a program for the local society, especially for the kids. Every month, we will ask them to come here and introduce them with the sea’s ecosystem. This program is meant to protect this island from the damage, whether neither in the land nor in the sea”. But the big question is what about all the garbage?

Thinking about that conversation, the things I saw, heard, tasted and smelled, it makes me speechless and I realize how beautiful this Indonesian island is, and that there are many more of them. However, I wonder how we will take care of them all. Precious that they are they are not crowded with people, vehicles, office buildings and shopping malls. The peaceful natural world is more than enough and this is what I am looking for by coming here, a white sand beach holiday which is far from the modern life and business city.

Finally, having gone around the island we arrive at the wharf. I am feeling so happy for the experience that I had today. The world under water, the garbage, the island, the people, the current and everything that I am seeing are wonderful. I am smiling as much as I ever have, as I walk back to my bungalow to get ready before having a Minahasan meal for my hungry stomach.

It is indeed a great day, but the day has not ended yet as the blue sky is slowly turning into red as the sun dips towards the horizon. Under the vanilla sky, I sit by the beach, enjoying the dusk with the sillouettes of the fishermen sailing past me, one by one, on their way home The only sounds being the rattle of an old outboard engine and the breaking waves on the beach.