A hellish three-day Indonesian traffic jam that stretched more than 30 kilometres and killed 17 people gives an idea of the difficulties Indonesian tourism officials face in persuading foreign tourists to venture away from favourite spots like Bali.
Traffic jams in Jakarta are notorious, but the latest nightmare occurred elsewhere – at a major highway junction at Brebes, a city on the main island of Java.
Traffic was trapped queuing to pass through a toll gate dubbed “Brexit” by Indonesians, from the words “Brebes exit”. The jams are worse at Muslim holiday periods and this was the end of the holy month of Ramadan, as millions head to villages to celebrate Eid.
Reports said several of the victims were elderly. Presumably they expired in their cars. Other died from fatigue “and other health complications” with local media reporting a baby had succumbed to fume poisoning.
Indonesia’s Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo apologised on behalf of the government, the Jakarta Globe reported. The paper said the jam started with “a surge in the number of vehicles headed toward Jakarta” which intersected with a traffic queue at the intersection of the Cipali and Cipularang toll roads at kilometre 66.
There are many beautiful and enchanting places to visit in Indonesia apart from Bali, but tourists are advised to think and plan carefully before undertaking extended travel by road. Highway travel times can turn out more extended than travellers expect – especially during public holidays.
Written by Peter Needham