Stations, airport, toll roads packed as Jakartans pour out of city ahead of mudik ban

Kampung Rambutan bus station staff and police officers show off a banner announcing the May 6-17 mudik ban. Photo: Twitter/@TMCPoldaMetro
Kampung Rambutan bus station staff and police officers show off a banner announcing the May 6-17 mudik ban. Photo: Twitter/@TMCPoldaMetro

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, thousands of Jakartans are racing to beat the mudik ban before it comes into effect tomorrow, inundating the capital’s travel hubs.

For mudik via rail, officials have reported 15,000 departures from Jakarta’s two main train stations — Senen and Gambir — today, exceeding both stations’ 70 percent capacity limit. The Soekarno-Hatta Airport is reportedly seeing larger-than-normal crowds, though official numbers have yet to come in. The Jakarta-Cikampek toll road saw increased traffic of vehicles leaving Jakarta this morning, and the volume may yet pick up throughout the day.

The government is banning the annual Eid homecoming tradition from May 6-17 and enforced tougher travel restrictions for a week prior and after the ban period. That said, by the government’s estimate, around 18 million Indonesians are expected to go on mudik this year, which translates to roughly 7 percent of the total population. 

Related — Drastic COVID-19 surges seen in 7 Indonesian provinces ahead of Eid holiday

Without the ban, the National Police said 81 million Indonesians would have gone on mudik this year. People who insist on defying the ban will be told to turn back without any sanctions.

COVID-19 Task Force chief Doni Monardo previously said Indonesia may see a 93 percent surge in cases nationally if authorities were as relaxed in enforcing the mudik ban as last year.

After some initial reluctance, President Joko Widodo last year banned mudik for the Eid holiday in May with Indonesia two months into officially reporting its first COVID-19 cases. Even so, millions still left for their hometowns, especially before the ban came in effect. 

Before last year’s Eid holiday, Indonesia recorded new cases numbering in the hundreds daily. The daily count shot beyond the 1,000 cases mark a couple of weeks after Eid, which was partly attributed to mudik.

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