13 February 2008

Trains -- A Spray for Discipline

Discipline and riding trains always brings to mind vivid memories of over-crowded trains and punters taking their lives into their own hands by riding on the roof. I guess compared to hanging out of the door of a moving train and having to contend with all of the track side dangers makes riding on the roof a relatively safe option. Well, at least as safe as riding on an open roof with live electricity wires carrying 1000s of volts can be.

In this very important 'train riding discipline month' being run by the State Rail carrier, PT. Kereta Api Indonesia, people without valid tickets and roof-riders are being fined between IDR 7,500 and IDR 25,000 for their indiscretions. The transportation officers are also confiscating identification cards which is an even bigger hassle than the fine as life in Indonesia is always dependent on having identification. Confiscated identity cards are almost never returned to the owner without the payment of a "facilitation" fee. And it is the facilitation fees that drive the continuance of this practice.

Nevertheless, it is the roof-riders that are in for the most fun. It has been decided that they are too difficult to catch if they refuse to come down from the train roof voluntarily. So, the answer is to spray them with a coloured dye that will allow them to be caught later and fined accordingly.

But as is common in Indonesia this is just another revenue raising venture that does not address the underlying core reasons for people breaking the law; simply there are not enough trains running frequently enough during the peak periods to cater for the demand. If you want to stop people riding on the roof of a train then the obvious answer would be to provide extra carriages so that they have a safe environment to sit in. Alas another example of putting the cart before the horse...

2 comments:

Wazeen said...

you're right it's just another raising revenue venture by PT.KAI, they'll never make significant change to their train service, even the train doesn't look like a human train, When it was lebaran day in 2003, I was in gaya baru night train, it was really bad, I wish in the near future there's a significant change rather than just a lips service and temporary policy.

Good post Mr.Rob, and congratulation as you're chosen as the blogger of the week by Mas Fatih Syuhud.

Rob Baiton said...

Thanks for the feedback! It is appreciated and nice to know someone is reading my blog :)

Yep, trains are not always the best in Indonesia. My only real train experiences have been to Bandung on Argo Gede (which is not too bad)...

I reckon if the Pres, Vice-Pres, and Ministers were forced to take the train more often we would see some public policy developments on this front...