Norman Harsono, Jakarta – The Transportation Ministry is sticking with its plan to end the use of oversized and overloaded (ODOL) trucks despite industry protests, but it plans to take a sterner stance only by January 2023.
Transportation Ministry land transportation director general Budi Setiyadi said on Thursday that the so-called zero-ODOL plan was a long overdue policy to improve safety on Indonesian highways and toll roads.
Rather than new rules, the policy entails the stricter enforcement of prevailing rules banning truck overloading. It was initially planned for January 2021 but then delayed by two years to accommodate industry concerns about compliance costs.
The trucking industry was already in "injury time", Budi said at a press conference.
The Transportation Ministry announced the zero-ODOL policy in 2019 to end a practice that contributes to dozens of truck accidents each year and costs an estimated Rp 34 trillion (US$2.36 billion) in annual infrastructure repairs.
The press conference was held shortly after the Transportation Ministry, the Traffic Police and the Public Works and Housing Ministry, the institution responsible for the repairs, met with truck driver associations to negotiate the policy.
"We will continue talks next time, because the associations have conveyed many aspirations," said Budi.
Over the past week, trucking companies and drivers have protested the zero-ODOL policy, arguing that the higher compliance costs would render their services uncompetitive.
On Tuesday, hundreds of truck drivers blockaded a section of the Purbaleunyi toll road in West Java to make their point.
Agus Ardianto, head of a truck drivers' group in West Java, said drivers were protesting the fact that existing regulations punished them and truck producers for overloading vehicles, even though the goods owners were often the ones demanding overloading.
"We want leniency in the ODOL policy," he said, as reported by Tribunnews.
The policy is a derivative of Law No. 22/2009 on traffic and road transportation, which stipulates that drivers of oversized and overloaded trucks may be sentenced to two months in prison and a fine of up to Rp 500,000.
Article 277 of the law also stipulates that truck manufacturers and assembly companies that create or modify trucks to alter the original specifications can be sentenced to one year in prison and fined up to Rp 24 million.
However, weak law enforcement means many overloaded trucks are still on the road.
The Transportation Ministry and Traffic Police, also on Thursday, committed to enforcing the zero-ODOL policy in 2023 through "persuasive means", such as training and public awareness campaigns, as opposed to "repressive" means that entailed punishment.
"We will prioritize raising awareness and be very selective about law enforcement, [applying it] only to very [serious cases]," said National Police Traffic Corps Sr. Comr. I Made Agus Prasatya.
The Indonesia Safety and Security Association (Kamselindo), a trucking and logistics business group, urged policymakers to revise the Traffic Law so that companies demanding truck overloading would also be subject to sanctions.
"This practice of overloading has been going on for a while and is getting worse as technology advances, so vehicles can carry greater loads, but the practice is not regulated," said Kamselindo chairman Kyatmaja Lookman on Thursday.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) asked the government to delay the implementation of the zero-ODOL policy until 2025 and to provide fiscal incentives to cover compliance costs.
"We all know that the economy during the pandemic was heavily affected," said Apindo chairman Hariyadi Sukamdani.
In 2019, Industry Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita had also asked the Transportation Ministry to delay enforcement of the zero-ODOL policy until 2025.