Vento Saudale & Heru Andriyanto, Bogor – Police have confiscated an ambulance used to transport a dozen people to the Puncak resort area in Bogor and another car modified to look like an ambulance to beat traffic in the same area, an officer said on Sunday.
With a hilly landscape and cooler temperature, Puncak is a favorite destination for residents in Greater Jakarta during weekends and the holiday season when frustrating traffic congestion typically hits its worst.
VIPs often used police escorts to beat the traffic but other people have to find another way, sometimes by violating rules.
Bogor Police Chief Adjunct Chief Commissioner Iman Imanuddin said the ambulance violation was uncovered by accident on Saturday afternoon.
When spotting an ambulance heading to Puncak, traffic policemen approached to offer an escort.
"The ambulance was moving alone and we intended to help it get through the traffic if it carried a sick person," Iman said.
However, it was found that the ambulance had no urgent medical conditions. It carried 12 people including children who wanted to go to Puncak for a vacation.
The interior of the ambulance has been modified by removing the back seats to accommodate more passengers, Iman said.
The second car was confiscated near the Safari Park in Cisarua, Bogor, after police mistakenly believed it was an official emergency vehicle and offered an escort. It carried six passengers, none of them was a patient.
Investigation at the scene revealed that the vehicle was an ordinary passenger car modified with a roof light bar similar to an ambulance. "The car contained the word 'ambulance'," Iman said.
Both drivers have been interrogated by police but Iman didn't say if they become criminal suspects. Passengers from the two cars were ordered to go home without charge.
But beating traffic is not the sole reason behind ambulance abuses. In March 2019, political activists Rocky Gerung and Said Didu were transported in an ambulance so they could avoid an angry mob who rejected their arrival and delivered speeches in the East Java town of Jember.
The scandal didn't bother both men – Said Didu posted photographs of him and Rocky inside the ambulance and tweeted: "In order to reach the location in Jember and avoid road blockades by certain groups, we had to go aboard an ambulance."
Two months later, five men were arrested after arriving in an ambulance at a violent rally against the reelection of President Joko Widodo in Jakarta.
The ambulance carried stones hidden in carton boxes that police believed would be used to attack security officials during the rally.
The vehicle belonged to the West Java branch of the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) party, which is chaired by losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto.