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Indonesia tightens supervision of chartered tour buses after deadly accidents

Jakarta Post - May 27, 2024

Dio Suhenda, Jakarta – Following a string of tragic accidents involving chartered tour buses, the government screened the road-readiness of buses over the Waisak extended holiday in an attempt to improve what experts deem as lackluster supervision of transportation providers.

The Transportation Ministry set up checkpoints in tourist destinations across the country to inspect the road-readiness of buses during the four-day holiday from May 23 until Sunday, when tour buses were expected to clog up roads.

These checkpoints, which operated every day throughout the holiday, were geared to ensure that buses had up-to-date paperwork and that they met the ministry's safety standards.

The first day of inspections on Thursday revealed that less than half of the 67 buses inspected in three provinces, namely Jakarta, Banten and Riau, as well as Bogor regency in West Java, had their papers in order. The remaining buses either had expired papers or were operating without any paperwork.

"When it comes to cases like these, we will hand them over to the police to follow up on so that there will be a deterrent effect," the ministry's Land Transportation Director General Hendro Sugiatno said in a statement.

The ministry's increased supervision came following at least four crashes in different parts of the country this month alone involving buses carrying students and teachers on out-of-town study tours.

The first incident happened on a hilly road in Subang, West Java, on May 11, when a bus carrying 61 students from Lingga Kencana vocational high school (SMK) in Depok experienced brake failure and crashed into oncoming traffic. Nine students, one teacher and a bystander were killed in the accident.

Another bus carrying students from a state junior high school in Malang regency, East Java, crashed into a truck on the Jombang-Mojokerto toll road on Tuesday. Two people were killed and 10 others were injured.

Just a day later, a bus chartered for a study tour by a state madrasah ibtidaiyah (Islamic elementary school) in West Pesisir, Lampung, drove into a ravine reportedly due to brake failure. Although no one was killed, six passengers were severely injured.

Most recently, a bus carrying students from a state elementary school in East Ogan Komering Ulu regency in South Sumatra crashed into a parked truck on Friday, killing at least two passengers.

Transportation expert Djoko Setijowarno said most bus crashes either happened because of brake failure when traveling on dangerous roads or drivers becoming drowsy at the wheel.

"This pattern is made worse by the fact that tour buses do not have regulated routes and their operating hours are also unregulated, leaving them free [to drive] anywhere and at any time without any time limits," he said on Thursday.

The lack of regulations, Djoko said, made it easy for bus owners to operate worn-out buses while making it difficult for authorities to supervise them. This was exacerbated by the fact that bus drivers, rather than bus owners, were typically brought to justice in fatal crash cases.

"It is very rare for a bus owner, whose buses are not roadworthy at the time of an accident, to be brought to court. As a result, we see similar incidents with the same causes happen time after time," Djoko added.

Source: https://asianews.network/indonesia-tightens-supervision-of-chartered-tour-buses-after-deadly-accidents