Phuket Media Watch: Balls up at Indonesian Railways


– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Indonesia cracks down on ‘train surfing’ with concrete balls
Phuket Gazette / News WIres
PHUKET: Railway staff in Indonesia have begun hanging concrete balls above railway lines in an effort to stop commuters from riding the roofs of trains, the Jakarta Globe reported today.

The grapefruit-sized concrete balls, which could deliver deadly blows to the head, were installed above railway lines a few centimeters above the top of carriages at points where trains enter or pull out of stations. Authorities hope the balls will be enough to deter defiant roof riders.

Railway staff previously attempted to stop ‘train surfing’ by spraying roof riders with red paint, threatening them with dogs, and even appealing for help from religious leaders.

“We’ve tried just about everything, even putting rolls of barbed wire on the roof, but nothing seems to work,” said Mateta Rizahulhaq, a spokesman for the state-owned railway company Kereta Api.

The first balls were being installed yesterday near a train station just outside the capital of Jakarta and others were to be placed near railway crossings, the Jakarta Globe reported. Asked about worries that the balls could hurt or even kill roof riders, Rizahulhaq insisted that that wasn’t really his problem.

“They don’t have to sit on top,” he said, as quoted by the newspaper. “And we’ve already told them that if the train is full they should go to the office. We will be happy to reimburse their tickets.”

Trains are usually packed with passengers, especially during the rush hour. Many people move to the roof to avoid paying for a ticket or to escape the overcrowded carriages.

It is unlikely that Phuket would see such drastic action, or at least not until the proposed light-rail service, currently being proposed for the island, comes to fruition.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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