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Indonesia’s woeful road safety under spotlight after fatal bus crash exposes negligence

A tragic bus crash in Indonesia that killed 11 people including several students has put the spotlight on the country’s chronic road safety problems and intensified calls for stringent regulatory oversight and enforcement.

The accident, which also injured 32 people, occurred on Saturday when a bus carrying students on an excursion in the town of Ciater, West Java – 26km southwest of Jakarta – crashed into a sport utility vehicle and three motorcycles.

“I was so shocked to see it on the news. It could have been my daughter on the bus,” said Sri Wahyuni, 36, a resident of Depok.

“I don’t know anyone on the bus but I felt shaken nonetheless,” she said, adding that it made her worry about her teenage daughter’s next school trip.

The students on the bus attended the Lingga Kencana high school in Depok.

The bus, operated by private company Trans Putera Fajar (TPF), reportedly lost control as it was making a turn on a downhill slope and swerved out of its lane and into the other vehicles. The bus was carrying 75 people, comprising students and staff, 10 of whom died instantly in the accident. One motorcyclist was among the fatalities.

The bus driver, Sadira, survived but was immediately taken into custody and declared a suspect in the ongoing police investigation into the crash.

Sadira admitted the vehicle had “experienced engine difficulties” during the trip and that he “tried to fix it on his own”, police said.

West Java Police Director of Traffic Control Wibowo said Sadira would be charged with “causing bodily harm resulting in death or injury to others while using the road”, an offence punishable with a maximum jail term of 12 years.

Eko Suyatno, a bus driver based in Surabaya, said he agreed that Sadira was guilty of negligence but