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. ryykk

    Clearly this is a long standing practice. You see it a lot in India. The solution to the problem is more trains or more cars. Certainly the transportation company is missing out on revenue and there is a simple way to capture the revenue and provide for safer passenger rides.

    By the way based on the video there is enough room to lay down on the roof and avoid the spheres of death.

    January 19, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Mac

      Who says they're paying customers?

      January 19, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Dr. McNinja

      "Spheres of Death" = Best testicle euphemism ever.

      January 19, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      It also provides enertainment for paying customers watching decapitated people fly off the roof

      January 19, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. MinnFinn

    Oh, concrete balls on chains striking people riding on the roof is called "detering riders". I'd call it, making many people room temperature very quickly.

    January 19, 2012 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jiggity Boo Boo

    Why isn't heartless Obama helping these poor rabble? Bring them all to America and pay for everything for the rest of their lives! More votes for Democrats, hooray!

    January 19, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  4. They Breed Like Rats

    Imagine how horribly stuffed and smelly it is inside the train cars if its that bad on the outside.

    January 19, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  5. Koedo

    The solution is easy. Indonesia is a Muslim country, right?

    Just tell the riders you spread pig fat and entrails on the train's roof. That'll do it.

    January 19, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  6. Pilot MKN

    The REAL problem is that the GOVERNMENT runs the railways. A private railroad would increase the number of trains, lower ticket fares and other measures to accommodate the customers.

    January 19, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • daisie13

      Exactly right. Free markets are the solution.

      January 19, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Yeah right. Private industry would close the trains and make everybody pay twice as much to ride on stinky buses.

      January 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • RR rider

      That is how it works here right? Oh wait a minute, we had a number of private railroads and they all went bankrupt so now Amtrak (government owned) operates the nation's passenger rail service.

      January 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bob

    seems stupid is all over the world

    January 19, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Brian Paone

    From the article:

    "“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 student still doesn't have the "right" to engage in theft of services by sitting on the roof of the train to avoid paying the fare. I'd suggest using a better analogy, Mr. Prasetyo.

    January 19, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rich Dunnagan

      Precisely. I am assuming the students legs work if he is able to climb on top of the train. How about placing on foot in front of the other on the way to school?

      January 19, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. U.S. Common Sense

    Quoting the article: “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,”

    Going to school is the right. Illegally hopping on the roof of a train is not. Therefore, "his right to get to school safely" is not being violated. Sorry Yosep Adi Prasetyo, but your argument is flawed.

    January 19, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ron Wagner

    Big government at work!

    January 19, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Peter Rabbit

    So I guess when the Indonesia government says to knock it off, they mean it literally! Kill people to stop roof riding. Remeber this where our president grew up!

    January 19, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Eric S

    Indonesian's version of WIPEOUT.......too frickin' funny!!

    January 19, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cheetahe

      We should send them some of our unemployed lawyers to defend the human rights of the roof riders.

      January 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. edge

    Is this a security measure, or the latest American Gladiators event?

    January 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Capnjoe

    I guess they could take advantage of this opportunity for training their Police and Military Sniper Squads.

    January 19, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. RTB2

    Seems like a PERFECT SOLUTION TO ME. Within a few days the corpses will begin to pile up on the trackside and the practice of stealing a ride will CEASE. The value of the ride will INCREASE, the price will go up to reflect the ACTUAL FREE MARKET VALUATION and the beat goes on. IF there is a need for increased capacity allow the free market to provide it. OBVIOUSLY the value of the service has to be affordable IF NOT IT FAILS, like Borders Books, Eastman Kodak, FAX MACHINES etc... The market needs winners and LOSERS and a FREE market allows for both. Todays loser is tomorrows winner and the beat goes on – rrrrghh

    January 19, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
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