Riza Roidila Mufti, Jakarta – Concerned about spreading COVID-19 from the capital to villages across the country, the Transportation Ministry will not provide any travel assistance this year for people seeking to visit their hometowns for Idul Fitri.
Every year, millions of Indonesians from big cities make the annual trip known as mudik (exodus) to get together with their extended families and friends across the country to celebrate the holidays. This year, Idul Fitri is expected to fall on May 24 and 25.
The ministry's Land Transportation Director General Budi Setyadi said free mudik travel offered either by government institutions or the private sector would not be allowed this year.
"Considering the current situation of the massive spread of COVID-19, I think this is the right decision, although it is hard. Thus, I hope people understand and obey what the government has decided," said Budi Setyadi.
Budi has also called on people not to travel home for Idul Fitri this year to minimize the spread of COVID-19 across the country.
"I urge all people not to return to their hometowns until conditions [improve]. Mudik involves massive mobility and gives the virus a chance to spread even more widely. People traveling to their hometown will potentially expand the contagion area," said Budi.
"We will push this campaign intensively," he said.
Before the free transport program was canceled, the Transportation Ministry alone had planned to provide 1,317 buses to carry 59,265 passengers from Greater Jakarta to 37 destinations across Indonesia in the free mudik program.
The ministry had also planned to prepare 111 trucks to transport 4,995 motorcycles for free in a bid to reduce the risk of people making long journeys on motorcycles.
"Now, we will shift our focus to working hand-in-hand between with regional governments to contain COVID-19," he said.
Previously, the ministry's expert staffer Adita Irawaty said the Transportation Ministry was considering limiting or even banning mudik travel this year.
"We are avoiding mass public gatherings. Unfortunately, the mudik tradition will cause such gatherings to happen in several places across the country, so we are now reviewing whether the mudik will be conducted as usual or not, we may even ban or limit it," said Adita during a video conference with journalists on Friday. (evi)