Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan confirmed that Commuter Line train services are allowed to operate in Greater Jakarta, media spokesman of Mr Luhut’s office, Jodi Mahardi said on Friday (17 April).
This decision was taken although several other regional administrations instructed to temporarily halt the services in order to break the chain of COVID-19 transmission.
“The Commuter Line continues to operate, but with a restricted schedule and reduced passenger capacity,” said Mr Jodi.
Mr Jodi stated that Mr Luhut, who is also Acting Minister of Transportation, has taken the decision considering that majority of the train passengers are workers, including those who work for the health sector.
“Minister Luhut has received reports that the majority of commuter train passengers are workers. We don’t want those who work in the health sector affected if its operation is halted,” stated Mr Jodi.
The health sector is among the eight sectors deemed “essential” that are still permitted to operate while the restrictions are in effect. Other essential sectors include the retail food and services sector, energy, logistics, and communications.
Meanwhile, Commuter Line stations are reported to remain crowded even after the large-scale social restrictions came into effect in Greater Jakarta.
This situation resulted in some regional administration heads in Greater Jakarta to call for a temporary suspension of Commuter Line service to flatten the curve of COVID-19 transmission.
The regional administrations of Greater Jakarta include Jakarta and its satellite cities of Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi.
As of 10 April, Jakarta Administration has imposed the large-scale social restrictions for 14 days, which was followed by other Regional Administrations in Greater Jakarta.
Mr Jodi also expressed Mr Luhut’s concern that halting the train services which connects Jakarta and its satellite cities would only create new problems.
Separately, the data from COVID-19 task force for Bogor region shows that two “red zones” of COVID-19 transmission, Cibinong and Bojonggede, are in fact located near the railway station.
This data was revealed by Bogor Region Administration Head Regent Ade who stated that majority of Bogor residents who had tested positive for COVID-19, contracted the virus while onboard the Commuter Line.
Therefore, she hopes that the central government would approve their request to temporarily halt the Commuter Line train service.
“We beseech the central government to listen to our aspirations, as we only want this for the sake of breaking the chain of COVID-19 transmission,” she was quoted in tempo.co on Friday.