12 March 2007

Disaster - The Day After

Caught this article off the ChannelNewsAsia website and I thought I reproduce it here to share with everyone.
It looks like the Indonesian gahmen is finally doing something about transport safety. Unfortunately, I can't help but get this feeling of deja vu.

Zhun bor?

Didn't they just did declare to tighten up safety standards the tragedy before? And the tragedy before that before that? *rinse repeat*

Ok. So maybe this time it is for real and I shouldn't be such a wet blanketing sour puss. Instead, I should give them the benefit of the doubt this time. Like the previous time and the time before that and the time before that before that. *rinse repeat*

Another lip service? Well, that just waits to be seen.

For the sake of the Indonesia people, I hope for this is going to be the real deal.

Air disaster piles pressure on Indonesia to act on safety
Posted: 11 March 2007 1544 hrs
JAKARTA: Indonesia's second fatal airplane disaster this year has piled pressure on the government to act over safety lapses ahead of the publication of a key report later this week.

The report, following an inquiry ordered by the president after a passenger plane disappeared on New Year's Day, is expected to make recommendations over safety across the country's entire transport network.

Wednesday's fireball at Yogyakarta, when a Garuda Airlines jet skidded off the runway and erupted in flames after what witnesses said was a crazily fast landing, has led to calls for Transport Minister Hatta Rajasa to resign.

A total of 21 people - including five Australians - died in the inferno, which was filmed in grisly detail by a cameraman who survived along with more than 100 passengers and crew.

Rajasa said after special prayers Friday for the safety of the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation that key recommendations on transport were due in the coming week. He did not give an exact date.

The Yogyakarta accident "reinforces the view that the culture of safety is almost non-existent in Indonesia," said Shukor Yusof, an aviation analyst with Standard and Poor's equity research in Singapore.

"There is a long list of disasters in the air, at sea and on land, a large number of which are the result of negligence and an attitude of ignoring safety procedures and prevention," Indonesia's Koran Tempo said in an editorial.

The string of air and maritime disasters have killed hundreds of people and shaken confidence in the transport links that bind this archipelago nation of 17,000 islands.

Major recent air and sea disasters include:

- September 5, 2005: A Mandala Airlines Boeing 737 crashed on the island of Sumatra, killing 150 people.

- Last December 29, a passenger ferry carrying some 600 people sank in the Java Sea, with more than 350 dead or missing.

- On New Year's Day, an Adam Air Boeing 737 vanished off Sulawesi with the 102 passengers and crew now presumed dead. Its black box recorders were found on the ocean floor.

- On February 22, a ferry caught fire off Jakarta. The search for survivors was called off earlier this month with 54 confirmed dead and 23 missing.

Experts blame old, badly maintained planes and ships and lax safety for the death toll.

Rajasa has insisted that safety is being improved, and notes that passenger growth in Indonesia is second only to China.

One measure being discussed is to bar airliners from buying jets more than 10 years old, but Rajasa's job still appears under threat despite such moves, amid speculation of a possible cabinet reshuffle.

In a television interview, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said that the Garuda tragedy was embarrassing for Indonesia. "Of course we are embarrassed to be a country with a high rate of accidents," he said.

He said Rajasa was under huge pressure and did not dismiss the possibility he could be replaced.

"I think he's more than embarrassed... this is a matter of pride, he tries hard, he rarely sleeps," Kalla said.

Bambang Susantono, the chairman of the Indonesian Transport Society, urged the government to put together a convincing short-term action plan, including random checks whose results are published promptly.

"This is the easiest and fastest way to restore public confidence," said Susantono.

Akhmad Muqowam, a lawmaker who chairs a parliamentary transport commission, said a plan to replace senior workers in the transport ministry could restore confidence.

The safety recommendations should be comprehensive and cover all transport modes, he added.

Susantono said the recommendations must include "an honest portrait of the current condition. Only then we will be able to see the root of the problem."

But for some Indonesians, recommendations are not the issue. They wonder if God is punishing the country for the misdeeds of its politicians.

"It is a test, not a punishment," Kalla said. "God is testing us." - AFP/yy

Image Credit:

- Voxeros

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