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Fatal bus crash sheds light on lacklustre regulations in Indonesia

Jakarta Post - May 14, 2024

Dio Suhenda, Jakarta – A deadly bus accident that killed nearly a dozen children on a study tour to Subang in West Java has led experts to call on the government to impose stricter safety measures for buses and transportation providers to avoid similar incidents in the future.

The bus carrying 61 students from Lingga Kencana vocational high school (SMK) in Depok, a West Java city on the outskirts of Jakarta, crashed into oncoming traffic and rolled over on Saturday on a hilly road in Subang, some 140 kilometers away from the school.

The bus was thought to have experienced brake failure, preventing it from slowing down when traveling downhill.

Nine students and one teacher on the bus were killed in the accident, while 27 students were heavily injured. A bystander was also killed.

In its preliminary investigation, the Transportation Ministry found that the bus skipped roadworthy inspections and its permit to transport passengers had expired on Dec. 6 of last year.

"[Having no license means] the vehicle was not subjected to a periodic [roadworthy] test every six months, despite [the test] being required [for all passenger buses] in existing regulations," Land Transportation Director General Hendro Sugiatno said on Sunday, as quoted by Antara.

Hendro urged transportation providers across the country to complete the test every six months, saying negligence that resulted in a fatal crash could result in the driver being penalized with a six-year prison sentence and a Rp 12 million (US$746) fine.

"[Transportation providers] that do not have permits but are still operating their vehicles are subject to criminal charges. We will report such cases to the police," he added.

Transportation expert Djoko Setijowarno said authorities also needed to tighten their supervision of transportation providers and bus owners, saying that fatal bus crashes followed a common pattern of involving old buses with worn-out bodies and without safety belts for their passengers.

"It is time for bus owners running their business without paperwork to be brought to justice because up until now drivers have always been made the scapegoats of fatal bus crashes," he said in a statement on Sunday.

He also urged the government to come up with more safety regulations, particularly as the majority of buses providing tours were not registered on the Land Transportation Directorate General database, Spionam.

He also said that bus drivers often lacked the know-how to assess whether their bus was in good condition, and that they often operated on pack schedules that made them fatigued.

"These problems have not been properly mitigated in a structured and systematic way. As a result, bus crashes will continue to happen in Indonesia, and [the number] could even increase if not handled properly," Djoko added.

West Java acting governor Bey Machmudin signed a circular on Sunday instructing regents and mayors in the province to closely monitor all study tour plans from schools in their jurisdictions.

The circular, according to a press release from Bey's office, recommends schools in West Java to only host study tours to places within the province and instructs school administrators to coordinate with local transportation and education agencies prior to the trip.

The National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) has deployed a team to investigate the crash in Subang.

Source: https://asianews.network/fatal-bus-crash-sheds-light-on-lacklustre-regulations-in-indonesia