29 August 2009

Ferry Sinkings in Indonesia

This past week in Indonesia has seen two ferries sink, one off the coast of Bali and one off the coast of Kalimantan. What is it with Indonesian ferries and their uncanny ability to regularly sink?

Understanding that Indonesia is a collection of 17,000 plus islands makes it easy to see why sea transportation is critical to the movement of goods and people. So, in some ways the fact that there is an accident or two would seem to be part and parcel of the odds.

However, the regularity with which accidents occur really should raise more alarm bells than it does. It should also generate a little bit more action than the obligatory Minister of Transportation statement that the government is dedicated to ensuring the safety of its citizens who have no option but to take sea transportation to get to where they need to be.

Simple solution is a complete overhaul of the safety and compliance system. This overhaul does not necessarily imply changing of the current prevailing laws and regulations, but rather seeing that the regulations that are already in force are, in fact, enforced.

On Wednesday, a ferry, Putra Romo, sank in the Straits of Badung off the coast of Bali. Of the 27 people on board, nine are dead and three are missing. Then, last night, the Sari Mulia sank off the coast of Kalimantan on a routine trip from Negara to Banjarmasin. The ship, as is often the case in Indonesia, was overcrowded. Best estimates to date are that one hundred have been rescued, five are dead, and a further eighteen are missing.

This is certainly not a good start to the fasting month.

(picture is a random ferry image that can be found here)

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