Indonesian police informed that there were less traffic accidents during this year's Idul Fitri exodus compared to preceding years. Idul Fitri, a national week-long holiday, marks the end of the Islamic fasting month (Ramadan) and is a big happening in Indonesia. Ahead of Idul Fitri millions of workers who live in the cities travel to their places of origin to spend some days with their families. Locally, this tradition is known as "mudik" ("going home").
When the Idul Fitri celebrations are about to end (or have ended), the same millions of people travel back to the cities where they work (and quite often they bring new family members - who are in search of employment - with them to the city). Hence this mudik tradition puts great pressure on Indonesia's infrastructure and, quite often, leads to massive traffic congestion. Also, dozens of people are killed every year by traffic accidents: people fall off overcrowded buses or are paying less attention on traffic as they are weakened by exhaustion after hours of traveling.
Considering Indonesia's existing infrastructure is rather fragile, the huge traffic flows around Idul Fitri are a concern for authorities and it therefore requires coordination and cooperation between government institutions and big private companies in order to smoothen traffic (for example, the government basically subsidizes public transportation for the poorer segments of society during this period as it puts less pressure on roads when many people use one vehicle - bus or train - than when each individual uses a motorcycle or car for his own transportation).
Tito Karnavian, Indonesia's National Police Chief General, said the number of traffic accidents during this year's Idul Fitri declined 42 percent compared to accidents in the preceding year, a remarkable performance that he attributed to good coordination between all related institutions in maintaining traffic safety. He added there were few significant clogs this year, something that is in stark contrast to preceding years.
The only problem was that there was limited availability of resting places along the Cipali toll road that connects West and Central Java. There were many people that needed a rest after hours of traveling and therefore sought some space along the road (as designated resting places were already full). This caused some additional congestion.
Karnavian is optimistic that next year traffic will ease further as the new toll road to Semarang (Central Java) will become operational.
Another interest fact about Indonesia's mudik tradition is that the 17-18 million city people who travel to their places of origin bring back trillions of rupiah, implying a big boost for the regional economies. For example, local retailers and restaurants can do good business in - or after - this Idul Fitri period.
Read also: Islam & Indonesian Culture: Impact of Idul Fitri on the Economy (02/07/2016)