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. Pete

    The country is way overpopulated anyway. Why not use any means at their disposal to cut down on the population, even more so if they're NOT paying for the train ride! Damn spongers!

    January 18, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. joe the plumber

    buy a ticket. If you do something illegal don't expect every safety and comfort to be available to you.

    January 18, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Steve S

    It would be helpful to know how fast these trains travel. Given the crowds, it seems possible that they don't reach sufficient speed for these balls to maim anyone. On the other hand, if the train moves quickly, then using these balls doesn't seem very different from using iron spikes or razor ribbon instead. Deadly.

    January 18, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Looneytoonsindville

    If the riders aren't willing or able to pay the train fare, then it doesn't matter how many trains you run, you will still have roof riders. Give them fair warning and then let the roof rider beware. If you sit on the tracks, you can expect to be seriously maimed or killed when the locomotive hits you. If you sit on the roof, you can expect to be seriously maimed or killed when the concrete balls hit you. What's the difference; you knew what you were doing was dangerous and you did it anyway. Shame on the roof rider who gets hit by a concrete ball!

    January 18, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Crouching Tiger Hidden Firefighter

    I have concrete ba..........oh nevermind.....

    January 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. CNN Government News

    What could possibly go wrong?

    January 18, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Alex

    cull the herd a bit...

    January 18, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. nlb

    So they deter people from getting on the roofs of trains so that they won't fall and get hurt.... by stringing concrete balls to make them fall?? Oh I see it is the "free" ride that bothers the railway. Not that they care about safety or anything.

    January 18, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. HCE

    It takes concrete balls to do something like that...

    January 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ignorant First Worlders

    It's funny reading all of these comments because none of you first-worlders can understand that these people WOULD pay if there were ENOUGH TRAINS.

    January 18, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Red Aviator

    You have to ask: Why isn't the railroad operator keeping up with demand. Obviously if it were easy to increase capacity they would do so, realize the additional revenue, and not have to resort to potentially lethal methods to thwart trespassers... The train system is State-run so any allusions to free market solutions (simple solutions) went by the way side long time ago so the State resorts to what they are most effective at: Using force against the people they rule. This is an easy one to figure out.

    January 18, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. efour

    There goes my vacation plans.

    January 18, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bluntus Kwuntus

    "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. WRONG– The ease of his illegal theft of transportation services is what's violated. He can WALK to school safely every day. Stealing transportation isn't a "human right" no matter how you try to spin it.

    January 18, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Crouching Tiger Hidden Firefighter

    Don't you think it would have been a slightly better idea that instead of buying all these concrete balls and stands used for hanging them from, that they could have just bought another train or two?

    January 18, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. albert

    "Now his right to get to school safely is simply violated"...riding on the roof of a train is safe? I never knew that!

    January 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • RayetWolf

      I didn't know there was a right to get to school safely. Which there isn't.

      January 18, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • nlb

      yes there is such a right, as your kids enjoy every day granted.

      January 18, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
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