Surabaya Hit With Rp 1b Bill After Bonek Debacle

By webadmin on 12:05 am Feb 04, 2010
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Candra Malik

Solo. State railway company PT Kereta Api has billed the mayor of Surabaya Rp 1 billion ($108,000) for damages to 10 train passenger cars and five locomotives during clashes involving the notoriously rowdy supporters of Surabaya’s Persebaya football club last month.

The clashes broke out as they passed through Solo, Central Java, on their way to and from a match in Bandung.

Adi Suryatmini, Kereta Api’s vice president for public relations, said the company considered Mayor Bambang Dwi Hartono’s government responsible for allowing the club’s supporters, nicknamed Bonek — short for bondo nekat , Javanese for “reckless mob” — to use the train to travel to the match on Jan. 23.

“If within the next week we still haven’t received any response from Surabaya, we will take the matter before the law. We are ready to issue a formal pre-litigation demand letter and go to court,” she said.

Adi said Bambang had only paid Rp 150 million to cover the cost of the fans’ tickets for the trip home from Bandung to Surabaya.

“It is obvious that either Bonek broke the law by damaging public transportation facilities or the damage was triggered by Bonek’s behavior. We will use every possible means to claim damages to prevent any potential for future damage,” Adi said.

The Bonek wreaked havoc on their way to and from Bandung, throwing projectiles from the train at houses and people in Solo and injuring police officers, journalists and bystanders. Residents in Solo retaliated when the group traveled back through on their way home on Jan. 25, throwing stones at the train.

Commercial director Wimbo Hardjito confirmed that Kereta Api had sent the letter to Surabaya mayor demanding compensation. “This is a very serious problem, which we can’t ignore,” Wimbo said.

Sutrisno, Kereta Api’s operational manager for Yogyakarta-Central Java Operational Area VI, said the damages incurred while transporting Bonek through Solo and Yogyakarta alone totaled Rp 187 million.

“That’s only for damages to the train, not to mention the damage to guard posts along the Yogyakarta-Solo route and damage from not carrying any other passengers,” Sutrisno said.

He said injured staff included two train drivers, one conductor, one engineer and a railway-crossing guard, and their medical expenses were not included in that figure.

The Indonesian Football Association disciplinary committee hit Persebaya with a Rp 250 million fine and banned supporters from attending away matches until January 2014.

But that seems unlikely to stop the Persebaya fans. There was already a ban on them traveling to away games in place when they headed to Bandung last month.