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Ferry Fees Increased

Cross Strait Ferry Fee Increases Spark Protests at Bali's Eastern and Western Sea Approaches.

(2/5/2005) Effective February 1, 2005, passenger and cargo traveling between East Java (Ketapang), and Bali (Gilimanuk), or between Lombok (Lembar) and Bali (Padang Bai), - the western and eastern approaches to the island of Bali are paying more to make the journey.

Fares went up following an order issued by Indonesia's Minister of Transportation issued on January 5, 2005 which affected 12 inter-provincial crossing points in the Country. The current 13.26% increase, is the first step in a planned total 54.27% increase in ferry tariffs.

Java Bali Ferry Rates

Effective with the latest increase, the cost of the short trip between Java and Bali is now based on vehicle length and type (i.e., passenger or cargo), with no allowance made for whether the vehicle is full or empty.

Between Java and Bali motorbike tickets now cost between Rp.9,000 or 20,000 (approximately US$US0.98 or US$2.20), while a 5-meter long car with passengers now pays Rp.55,000 (approximately US$6) and a 10-meter long passenger vehicle pays Rp.162,000 (approximately US$17.60).

At least for now, passenger tickets remain unchanged at Rp. Rp.3,300 (approximately US$ 0.36) for adults and Rp.2,200 (approximately US$0.24) for children.

Change in Payment System

The fare increases was also accompanied by a change in the payment system. Now, instead of lining up for tickets and then lining up again to board the ferry, now a toll-road-like type system will be used in which passengers and vehicles line up pay for their ticket as they board the vessel.

New Fares Needed to Cover Rising Fuel Costs

The Ketapang-Gilimanuk Branch Chief of the National Ferry Board (ASDP), Mochsirsyah, quoted in the local press said the tariff changes were actually slated for January 1. 2004, but were delayed to avoid date conflicts with the Country's presidential and parliamentarian elections. Mochsirsyah explained that because of rising fuel costs the increase in ferry tariffs could not be delayed further, adding "the ferry operators have to pay more for fuel, but receive too little in ticket sales, they won't be able to cover their operational costs, so this increase was at their request, not at the initiative of the ASDP."

Increases in Fares Spark Protests

The National Indonesian-language daily, KOMPAS, reported that representatives of bus and truck companies staged protests in Lombok on Monday, January 31, 2005, in response to the fare increases. Drivers and their crews complained that the new pricing system for made it too expensive to make the ferry crossing with anything less that maximum capacity load. They argued that this will force bus companies to raise ticket prices, even when bus fares are struggling to compete with discount air fares over the same route.

Although the press and national television stations showed reports of angry confrontations between drivers and local police in Lombok, the Chief of Police for West Lombok, Edy Djubaedi, insisted there were no confrontations between demonstrators and port staff, and that no arrests were made.

As a precautionary measure 200 police officers were posted at the port during the initial days of the new fare levels. Despite protests on the roads leading to the departure points, the flow of vehicles arriving in Lombok from Bali seem unaffected.