Indonesia: Ministry reports drop in mobility during year-end holidays

The government’s desperate appeal for would-be holidaymakers to stay put for the recent Christmas and New Year break looks to have paid off, with the Transportation Ministry reporting receding mobility amid fears of another spike in COVID-19 cases.

Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said there had been a significant drop in land transportation ridership over the year-end break compared to the same period last year.

“Our data indicates that ridership for land transportation dropped from 13 million in 2019 to 5.6 million in 2020,” Budi said on Tuesday, as quoted by

The number of ferry passengers also dropped by 47 percent, from 3 million in 2019 to a mere 1.5 million at the end of last year, while air travel passenger numbers saw a decrease of 42 percent from 3.6 million in 2019 to around 2 million in 2020.

Statistics also show that sea transportation ridership apart from ferries decreased from 1.3 million to just 500,000 in the same period.

The Indonesian Flight Navigation Service Institution, or AirNav Indonesia, previously forecasted that air traffic would increase by 4.8 percent in December from the previous month.

Meanwhile, Airnav president director Pramintohadi stated that traffic movements in 2020 had in fact declined by 41 percent year-on-year, with the pandemic identified as one of the major factors contributing to the decline.

The largest drop in passenger numbers, however, was seen in railway travel, where passenger numbers dwindled 83 percent.

“The number of train passengers declined from 3.4 million in 2019 to 555,000 in 2020,” Budi said.

The numbers appear to support a state-led PR blitz to curb mobility over the year-end holiday period, in which the general population was urged to stay at home in an effort to contain COVID-19 transmission.

As a result, the drop in ridership was bound to happen, the minister said.

“I appreciate the public’s effort to limit travel. Not only are they following the President’s recommendations, they are also following health protocols,” he said.

To prevent another spike in transmission over the year-end holidays, as previously observed after holiday weekends in August and October, the national COVID-19 task force imposed strict measures for travelers during the Christmas and New Year’s Eve holiday period.

According to a circular issued by task force chief Doni Monardo on Dec. 19, travelers making use of air or railway transportation to and from within Java are asked to provide negative rapid test results prior to their departure.

The circular also states that overland travelers, whether taking public or private transportation, are required to fill in Indonesia’s electronic health card (e-HAC). Train passengers, however, are exempted from this policy.

People who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms prior to their departure won’t be allowed to continue their journey and are required to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, even if they had tested negative for the disease before. (dpk)