Indonesia train surfer scheme risks lives: groups
Published on Jan 18, 2012
JAKARTA — Indonesian rights groups said that a decision by the state-run rail operator to hang concrete balls above tracks to deter train surfers "risked lives".
PT Kereta Api on Tuesday began installing around 20 two-kilogram (4.4-pound) balls by fixing them with chains at a crossing in Bekasi in eastern Jakarta.
"This shortcut measure shows the laziness of the bureaucracy and puts many lives at risk," said Ifdhal Kasim of the National Commission of Human Rights.
"Authorities should adopt tough but safe measures like stopping the train from leaving the station if anyone insists on staying on the roof.
"I'm certain other passengers will protest if the train refuses to move and the violators will eventually be forced to come down," he added.
Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country with about 240 million inhabitants, does not have an effective public transportation system.
Many in Jakarta, the capital of nearly 10 million people with streets snarled in traffic, use overcrowded trains and buses to commute to work.
"The root problem is limited access to public transportation. People have no choice but to sit on train roofs because there's no space available inside the cabins," Rafendi Djamin, head of the Human Rights Working Group, told AFP.
"Some people are too poor to afford a ticket. The latest measure compromises public security and discriminates against the poor," he said.
But the train operator defended the latest scheme, saying it was exasperated after all other measures it tried had failed to deter "atapers," or "roofers," in Indonesian slang.
Past deterrents have included spraying paint on roof-riders, installing flexible poles that deliver a painful whack and stationing dogs on train tops.
"I hope with this method, the passengers will no longer sit on the train roof," said company spokesman Mateta Rizalulhaq.
"At least one passenger is killed everyday from falling from the train roof or accidentally electrocuted," he added.
Source: Google News