Indonesia’s annual exodus starts ahead of Eid al-Fitr festivities

By Thomson Reuters Apr 8, 2024 | 8:04 PM

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Aditya Nugraha, a 21-year-old Indonesian, was travelling from the capital city of Jakarta to his hometown of Palembang on Sumatra island, over 500 km (310 miles) away, to celebrate the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr this week.

The festival, also called Lebaran in Indonesia, marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. It falls on Wednesday this year and the entire week will be celebrated by more than 220 million people in Indonesia, which has one of the world’s largest Muslim populations.

Aditya was one of the many millions travelling to his home town in a mass exodus known locally as “mudik” and usually marked by hours of traffic jams, especially on the main island of Java.

“We departed from home last night around 9, and now it’s been 13 hours and we are still stuck in this very long traffic. Hopefully, there will be a solution to this soon,” Aditya told Reuters on Monday, waiting to enter the port in the town of Merak for a ferry to cross from Java to Sumatra.

Drone footage on Monday showed thousands of vehicles queuing to enter the ferries, while many more were on the road heading to the port, stretching far outside Merak.

People living in Jakarta, a city of 11 million people, started leaving the capital over the weekend, according to the Transport Ministry.

Around 193 million people were expected to travel during the festivities this year, according to a survey by the ministry, around 56% higher compared to the number of travellers during the Eid holidays last year.

(Reporting by Johan Purnomo, Yuddy Cahya Budiman; Writing by Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)