Busway firms may be replaced
Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso said Thursday that his administration would remove bus companies that have bad loans with banks from a consortium in charge of developing the city's new busway routes.
"We will verify whether they (the companies) have bad debt. If they do, we will replace them with other firms," Sutiyoso announced at City Hall on the sidelines of a meeting with city leaders on the launch of a campaign against thug gangs in the capital.
He was commenting on a report that two members of the TransBatavia consortium, which will be in charge of the busway Corridors II and III -- PT Mayasari Bakti and PT Metromini -- had failed to repay outstanding loans from city-owned Bank DKI.
Corridor II will stretch from Pulogadung in East Jakarta to Harmoni in Central Jakarta, while Corridor III from Harmoni to Kalideres in West Jakarta. They are expected to begin operation early next year.
According to a letter sent by Bank DKI to Bank Indonesia dated July, 5, 2005, Mayasari owes the bank Rp 22.7 billion (US$2.5 million), while Metromini still owes Rp 16 billion to Bank DKI.
The loans, which Bank DKI classifies as bad debts, were part of liquidity loans given to public transportation firms between November and December 1999 with a low interest of 6 percent.
Mayasari and Metromini have refused to comment on the report, but did make the assertion that the loans were taken out by the previous owners.
"We will require those companies to repay their respective obligations first," he stressed.
Aside from PT Mayasari Bakti and PT Metromini, which have 50 percent and 5 percent of shares, respectively, the consortium also groups two other companies whose routes are being affected by the new busway routes -- Steady Safe with 23 percent and state bus company PPD with 22 percent.
He also said he had not been informed about the consortium's proposal to buy Daewoo buses from South Korea at the price of Rp 1.5 billion each for Corridors II and III -- roughly twice the price of the buses used for the first busway route of between Rp 821.7 million and Rp 846.5 million.
TransBatavia said Tuesday that it had proposed compressed natural gas-fueled buses made by South Korean firm Daewoo for the new buses.
The Daewoo buses reportedly have automatic transmissions with 11,000-cc engines that produce 290 horsepower.
"Of course, we will re-check whether such a price is proper," he asserted.
TransJakarta Busway Management (BP TransJakarta) head Irzal Z Djamal had said that the price too high.
"The administration has to dig deeper into its wallet to pay for a higher ticket-price subsidy or raise ticket prices," he said without elaborating on the details of the expected subsidy or revenue from the tickets.
He said that TransBatavia had recommended a distance-based ticketing system for the new busway projects to keep the subsidy costs from increasing too much, if it stuck with the flat ticketing system.
The second busway corridor from Pulogadung in East Jakarta to Harmoni in Central will be 13.4 kilometers long, while the third route from Harmoni to Kalideres in West Jakarta is 18 kilometers, as compared to the current 12.9-kilometer route from Blok M in South Jakarta to Kota in West Jakarta.
PT TransBatavia president director Azis Rismaya Mahfud acknowledged that his company would not be able to provide the buses ahead of the schedule of the busway operation in December this year due to financial problems, saying it would likely launch the busway project in March 2006.