Mon, 07 Mar 2005

New transport fares to be announced Monday

Damar Harsanto and Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Uncertainties over public transportation fares in the wake of the 29 percent fuel price hike will likely end on Monday.

City Transportation Council (DTK) chairman Sutanto Soehodho acknowledged that the transportation council had reached a final decision on the issue.

"But, we cannot disclose it right now. Please, wait until after our meeting with Governor Sutiyoso on Monday," Sutanto told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Sources familiar with the decision have said that the proposed increase would be by at least 13 percent.

Chairman of the Jakarta chapter of the Organization of Land Transportation Owners (Organda) Herry JC Rotty said the association had submitted its proposal to increase fares to the administration last Friday.

"We have requested an increase higher than the 10 percent increase we proposed earlier as we have to take into account other things, like auto parts, lubricant consumption and the salaries of public transportation crew," Herry said.

City spokesman Catur Laswanto said the administration had told the DTK to conclude its discussion over the proposed tariff increase by Monday "so that we can present our recommendation to the City Council."

Catur said that the City Transportation Agency had carried out a preliminary study to determine the appropriate percentage to raise fares by.

"The study will be compared against Organda's proposal," Catur said.

The government raised fuel prices by an average of 29 percent last week, but also increased spending in other sectors, including health and education, to increase access to these for the country's poor.

The impact of the fuel price hike has prompted hundreds of public transportation drivers to hold a mass strike, leaving thousands of commuters stranded.

The drivers demanded that the administration raise public transportation fares by an average of 15 percent to weather the impact of the fuel price hike, which they said would slash their income by nearly 50 percent.

Many passengers have also reported that some crews of public buses and vans unilaterally raised their fares by 10 percent to 15 percent following the fuel price increase.

On Saturday, around 2,000 demonstrators staged a protest in front of State Palace to demand that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono reverse the government's decision to raise fuel prices.

The protesters, members of the Hizbut Tahir Indonesia Islamic group, said that the fuel price hike would only result in more poverty.