Sunday, 3 May 2009

Transport, Transport? If it is in Indonesia, no thanks!

850 People plus their vehicles on this (previously) floating dustbin?!
Transport, Transport? If it is in Indonesia, no thanks!
By Agus Pambagyo III
Jan 29, 2007, 08:42

It seems quite obvious the Indonesian authorities have a problem regarding transport when you walk Bali’s streets; hundreds of unlicensed and uninsured “taxi” drivers running tourists around and sometimes running them over in highly questionable vehicles, safety wise. The problem there is that to become a fully licensed tourist guide (taxi driver), locals have to take lengthy school courses and have vehicles under a certain age which are submitted for safety checks on a regular basis. Having rules is one thing, having rules without providing solutions to people who can not afford to comply with the rules is something completely different.

So too the problem with ferry companies, when the Senopati Nusantara ferry (picture above) sank with the loss of around 500 lives, Agus Pambagyo an Indonesian public transportation expert said "Ship captains usually bribe harbor masters at seaports in order to get sailing permits although they don't meet transportation safety requirements. Just look at the (many) vessels sailing in the nation's straits and oceans. It's easy to tell they are not well-maintained.” It also seems the officers and crews are none too well trained or responsible as amid eye witness accounts of passengers struggling to find life jackets for themselves came the news the ferry captain was found in a life raft safe and well. So the captain of the ferry who should go down with his ship all the time passengers can be saved seems to have legged it as soon as he realized the ship would sink. So it seems all those people died because a) there were not enough life jackets which got "overlooked" for a bung of a few dollars and b) the crew did not help them find the ones that did exist because they were too busy grabbing one of the few life-rafts for themselves! Well, that’s Indonesia’s ferries out for safety concerns, but at least you can fly within Indonesia safely right?

Then of course came Adam Air’s flight KI 574 in an aging Boeing 737-400 which came crashing down from a height of 33,000 feet near Sulawesi during 137 km/h crosswinds after the airline reportedly ignored pre-departure warnings about the same. The pilot Mr. Refri Widodo clearly was distressed and in trouble when he last contacted Makassar’s the air traffic controller as he asked them what his position was. The thing is, the Indonesian authorities subsequently claimed the location of the missing 40 meter long plane was one of the aviation industry's biggest mysteries, when all along they knew too well it was no mystery but rather negligence. You see their air traffic control systems, namely their radar location systems were inoperable at the time of the crash and had been for a while in shocking breach of international air safety regulations. When the ill fated Adam Air pilot asked ATC for directions to get his plane, 96 passengers and 5 other crew members to safety, he was asking the wrong people; Indonesian air traffic control clearly had absolutely no idea where he was.

Singaporean air traffic controllers actually picked up the aircraft’s mayday call and their radar detected the single locator beam signal sent out by KI 574 which allowed them to determine approximately where the ill fated Adam Air Boeing went down. But the fact the Singaporeans did this and the Indonesians did not, confirms the Indonesian authorities allow aircraft to fly in unmanaged skies in breach of international air safety law. Then came allegations from Indonesia’s respected Tempo magazine that the Indonesian owned equipment which should have picked up signals recording the crash location had been inoperative for a year, and that equipment repair requests had gone unanswered. Finally came sort of confirmation in typical amateurish form that the Indonesian authorities had failed in their International obligations from National Commission for Transportation Safety investigator Ruth Simatupang, who said in a statement to the Jakarta Post "All major airports in this country have radars that comply with international standards and if everything works properly, they should have picked up a distress signal (from the plane).” Notice the “if” and “should”! Saying then the Makassar radars might have been inoperable “This problem could have stemmed from the poor maintenance of the radars.”

It seems clear that while the heartless wobble merchants of Indonesia deliberately misclassify a team from Japan’s International Cooperation Agency staff as airline industry experts and misquote them as having vetted Bali’s International Airport as safe, when all they did was make an out of hand statement as everyday civilians they felt that way about Ngurah Rai (see Bali Airport Security), the truth is frightening. With regard to safety at Bali’s International Airport, who now can say with any degree of certainty that it is safe to fly in to and out of Bali? Sure foreign pilots would know if the flight path guidance systems were offline, but they would not know if Bali’s radar was inoperable or not and whether Bali’s air traffic controllers were instead working on a wing (or a whim) and a prayer. After all, if the Indonesian authorities basically lied for a year and got away with it regarding their Makassar radar system being in operation, who could believe them about any claims they make about air safety anywhere in Indonesia? The next time you fly into Bali can you be confident Made in ATC can see the aircraft you are in on his radar scope or is he just guessing where you are and hoping that the flight from Jakarta was in and had cleared that space 5 minutes earlier because his radar screen is now only fit to prop up his magazine?

Wayan, climb up the radar and keep a look out for aircraft!
Of course the Indonesian authorities are now doing what they do best after taking bribes; they are blaming and threatening others to try and mitigate their own untenable position. According to the Jakarta Post “Government officials this week summoned airline owners to Jakarta to discuss safety. They were told that enforcement agencies could not be everywhere and they needed to take more responsibility for safety standards. If they didn't, airline operators and owners would face sanctions, possibly jail terms.” So the government air safety officials who broke the law are not at risk or criminal prosecutions then? And don’t you just love the round about way they pass the buck on illegal broken radar by saying “enforcement agencies could not be everywhere”?

Now frantic Indonesian pass the buck efforts have gone to extremes with a clutching at straws allegation that the Boeing 737-400 might have had structural design problems! Funny how the least likely option given this is the world’s most popular passenger jet aircraft which has been flying for many years without design fault problems being suggested before! Also that any concrete evidence of a design fault or anything else for that matter would need to come from the black box recorder, whose battery is likely to shortly give out losing everything! Nothing to do with a cheap airline with a terrible maintenance record which has caused many of its own pilots to walk out over safety concerns in a country renowned for allowing unsafe passenger craft to go if a bribe is paid! Nothing to do with the aircraft captain and airline bosses ignoring warnings not to fly on that day because of storms! These statements clearly say things are not going to change any time soon regarding transport safety compliance in Indonesia.

It is not just the fact that Indonesian transportation itself is so unsafe, it is the fact that the air and other traffic control systems which foreign vessels rely upon which navigate through Indonesian territory are also clearly not up to standard. We therefore suggest you do not even think about flying in Indonesian airspace, let alone contemplate landing there!

The above Senopati Nusantara ferry picture reminded us of how Indonesian officials paint "We love Indonesia" everywhere and on everything, much the same way other totally reviled countries have in the past. Did you know that Lovina in Bali actually is not a real village, town or area name but a name concocted by the Indonesian authorities and is actually an abbreviation of "Love Indonesia". It does not matter how many times you paint "We love Indonesia" guys, we hate your damn country and with good cause.

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