January 18th, 2012
07:16 AM ET

Indonesian railway stringing concrete balls to deter roof riders

Indonesia's state railway, Kereta Api Indonesia, has begun stringing concrete balls over rail lines to prevent people from hitching free rides on top of its trains, according to local news reports.

The devices are called Goal Bola-bola , or goal balls, as they resemble soccer goals with the grapefruit-sized concrete balls strung from chains, according to a report in the Jakarta Post.

Trains in Indonesia are often overcrowded.

The railway said it resorted to using the concrete balls after previous anti-roof-rider efforts - including greasing the roofs, spraying roof riders with colored water, and detentions and fines - didn't stop the practice.

But a human rights group says the balls expose violators to a punishment as severe as death for a minor infraction.

“Picture this: If a student has to take the train, he or she would face the threat of being killed by the concrete balls. Now his right to get to school safely is simply violated,” Yosep Adi Prasetyo, a spokesman for the National Commission on Human Rights, told the Jakarta Globe.

The balls will only be used on lines that run locomotives, according to the Globe report. Lines with electric trains will use swinging doors that will allow the electrical connectors through, but not roof riders.

Adi told the Globe the real problem isn't freeloading riders, but that there aren't enough trains to accommodate demand.

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Filed under: Indonesia • Railroads • Transportation • World
soundoff (333 Responses)
  1. banasy©

    "But a human rights group says the balls expose violators to a punishment as severe as death for a minor infraction."

    Then they won't have any problem not commiting the minor infraction if they know they may die....

    January 18, 2012 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
  2. John Smith

    What is the problem here. Are Indonesian officials worried about riders safety in riding on the roofs? Obviously not. Maybe they want to boost received fares so they can afford more trains? Highly doubtful the fares go towards that. I havent heard statements or of plans about increasing train numbers, or the safety to paid riders by officials. This is another example of poor infrastructure funding that will keep Indonesia down.

    January 18, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • John in WNY

      Oh and since you haven't heard anything about adding to capacity it surely can't even be under consideration as I am sure the Indonesian state railway always runs their plans by you before even discussing them.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • svann

      John, Indian trains have been like this since forever. Unless you have information contrary the status quo is the most likely prediction.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  3. rooney©

    I think Adi is right. They need to add more trains.

    January 18, 2012 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      I think Adi is wrong. There needs to be fewer people. East Asia is an overcrowded heIIhole that hasn't seen a good plague or famine or major war in far too long. Gotta cull the herd, ya know?

      January 18, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Adi

      I believe I am right. I am Adi and I have spoken.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • reny

      I agree with Chris. Too many people.

      January 18, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

    Let them eat some more cake.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dead Man Blogging

    Human rights groups want them to keep allowing this? What I'd like to see is the numbers for people killed or seriously injured because they fell off the roof of the train, or got hit by some other low-hanging obstacle. Roof riiding is dangerous, plain and simple. Stopping it should be a safety issue, These human rights groups are endangering the lives of the same people they say they are protecting.

    If the practice were common in the US, of course, anyone who got hurt roof-riding would immediately sue the railroad and probably get a huge reward for being a fool.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  6. Kenny

    Why not use the roof riders for target practice. It would be cheaper than killing them with concrete balls and having to clean up all the torn up bodies.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jerome Horowitz

    There I was, riding the train, and somebody's balls hit me right in the mouth.....

    January 18, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  8. Joe Gorman

    Does anyone notice the "worker" for this company has no shoes on. Maybe they should take some of the fare money from the riders he's helping kill and buy him some shoes.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  9. CSMinDC

    They don't need to add trains nor the balls for trains to go under. Make concrete tunnels. And many of them. That will take care of it.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  10. JamesBond

    “Picture this: If a student has to take the train, he or she would face the threat of being killed by the concrete balls. Now his right to get to school safely is simply violated,”

    Because riding on top of a moving train is safe...

    January 18, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  11. HutchMCMLXXV

    What are they going to start doing for the ones hanging out of the doors and on the side of the train? I like the one person on the very front of the train too. These people are so stupid! Just let Darwin's law run its course with the concrete balls.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  12. Chris

    It's like everyone in Indonesia has a death wish. Has anyone else ever seen their traffic mortality rate? It's horrific. From what I can tell, they have absolutely no regulations on what sort of vehicles people are allowed to operate, and if they do, they don't enforce them at all. You see countless videos of people riding around on mopeds with no helmets and a toddler on their lap. If you go to the weirder parts of the internet, you see videos of these same people splattered under the wheels of trucks every day. These trains appear to be a symptom of the same problem.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      "It's like everyone in Indonesia has a death wish." LIFE wish; they are poor and jobs are scarce and there's no welfare and not much sympathy. They run all day to earn money for their families.

      January 18, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mike

    Can't they check the trains before they leaves the stations and have a few permanent 'barriers' just outside the stations that would prevent people from being on the roof and once the trains have enough speed it would prevent anyone else from being on the roof? (We supposedly put a man on the moon and we can't come up with some technology to keep people off of train roofs?)

    January 18, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      "some technology to keep people off of train roofs" They are fighting to get to their jobs, and they are willing to hang off a train to get there. The technology you are thinking of is called "more trains."

      January 18, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. atlantian

    it would be awesome if they hung up the big red balls from wipeout. might even call it WIPEOUT INDIA..

    January 18, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  15. GeorgeBos95

    While I think the concrete balls are an extreme measure, it's also silly they've been pushed so far as to have to resort to that. The people are idiots.

    Stop running the trains while people are on the roof, and arrest the ones hanging off the side.

    Oh, and while you're at it, develop a transportation infrastructure that satisfies demand.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      "Oh, and while you're at it, develop a transportation infrastructure that satisfies demand." And make gas cheap again, cure cancer, and end poverty. There, we fixed it. Simple solutions for simple minds.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
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