Illegal passengers on the Bogor-Kota train rioted at Manggarai station in Central Jakarta on Friday morning after station authorities attempted to prevent them from riding on the train roof.
A spokesman for state railway operator PT KAI, Mateta Rizalulhaq, said station officers were pelted with stones by passengers riding on the roof of a carriage during rush hour at 6:30 a.m.
“The officers were clearing passengers off the roofs of carriages by spraying them with paint. The passengers became upset and started throwing rocks at officers,” Mateta said.
Illegal passengers — from teenagers to middle-aged people — often travel on carriage rooftops and other spaces not designed to carry passengers.
Many choose to ride on the roofs because of the lack of space inside the carriage, a reluctance to pay the fare, or simply for the thrill.
In an attempt to deter passengers from riding on the roofs of electric trains, PT KAI has been spraying non-toxic paint on offending passengers this month.
An automatic paint sprayer has also been installed near train stations targeting rooftop passengers.
Mateta said he suspected the assailants had stocked up on stones before they reached Manggarai station. Station security officers detained 10 passengers following the melee.
“The 10 people arrested were not the perpetrators. They simply did not have train tickets. We haven’t caught the perpetrators yet,” Mateta said, adding that “someone provoked them”.
Manggarai station chief Suprapto said PT KAI would continue to spray paint on illegal passengers despite the threat of more unrest.
“This [operation] is being conducted for their own safety. We do not want to have more victims due to their ignorance and a lack of monitoring,” he said.
Suprapto added that PT KAI had taken preventive measures in smaller stations to prevent passengers from illegally boarding train roofs.
“We have taken preventive measures by placing banners saying it is forbidden to ride on the top of trains,” he said.
To prevent future clashes, Suprapto said the station planned to add more security officers.
“We will add more internal security officers and work closely with local police,” he said.
Suprapto said the Bogor-Kota route saw the highest number of illegal passengers as “the route carries the most passengers”.
The operation to stop illegal passengers riding on the top of trains was also meant to reduce the number of accidents.