East Kalimantan’s preparations for Mudik to focus on ferry safety

SAMARINDA, EAST KALIMANTAN: Authorities in East Kalimantan are expecting a 15 percent increase in the number of people leaving the province’s major cities to go to their hometowns during the end-of-Ramadan holiday of Lebaran, Jakarta Globe reported.

Zairin Zain, head of the provincial transportation office, said on Wednesday that more than 100,000 travelers were expected to take part in the tradition this year, known as mudik .

He said the vast majority would be traveling by air, with 32,000 expected to go by sea and around 10,000 by road. For the latter, the provincial administration is preparing a fleet of 100 buses, in addition to those already operating overland routes.

Most of those going by plane and boat will be heading to destinations in South Sulawesi and East Java, Zairin added.

He said his office’s main concern was the safety of those going by sea, given that rough seas with waves up to three meters high were expected in the seas around Kalimantan through July and August.

“If ferry operators try and force a trip despite the conditions, the results could be fatal,” he said. “Sea crossings have always been a crucial mudik route, and in the past almost all the ships heading out were dangerously over capacity.”

Sukendra, head of the Balikpapan office of state ferry operator Pelni, said his office would add extra ships to its fleet for the expected increase in passengers heading to Surabaya and Pare Pare, South Sulawesi.

“We’ll add the extra ships from three days before Lebaran, or about August 16, because that’s when the travel numbers usually peak,” he said.

He added that the number of ferry passengers was expected to increase by just 5 percent from year, and attributed the small rise to affordable airplane fares.

“It’s getting much cheaper to fly, so a lot of people who in previous years would take a ship back to their hometowns in Surabaya or Makassar are flying instead,” Sukendra said.

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