Tue, 09 May 2000

Blackout affects activities in Greater Jakarta

JAKARTA (JP): Hundreds of thousands, or perhaps millions, of people in several parts of Jakarta and Tangerang had their routines interrupted for hours on Monday after a blackout occurred at 10:55 a.m.

The total loss suffered by customers of state electricity firm PT PLN during the four-hour electricity failure could reach billions of rupiah. Main streets in the capital witnessed heavy traffic congestion when traffic lights stopped working.

Along the streets in West Jakarta and Tangerang owners of air- conditioned places of business, such as shops and barbershops as well as other businesses that rely heavily on PLN-supplied electricity such as gas stations, decided to temporarily close.

Internet Service Providers were also unable to service customers.

The power supply resumed in stages beginning at 2:30 p.m.

According to PLN spokesman Tito S., the failure was caused by an electrical short circuit in 150 kilo-volt cables when residents of Kampung Utan in Ciputat, South Jakarta, chopped down coconut trees.

"Some of the coconut fronds were lifted by the wind and caused the short circuit," he told The Jakarta Post by phone in the evening.

Earlier in the afternoon, head of PLN for Greater Jakarta and Tangerang distribution Margo Santoso said at a news conference that the problem occurred along power lines connecting Gandul and Petukangan in South Jakarta due to unknown reasons.

The electricity failure then automatically shifted the 150 kilo-volt power to the Muara Karang steam-generated power plant in West Jakarta to compensate the loss.

"This, however, caused the power plant to overload and caused the breakdown," he added.

Margo said the power plant had a capacity of 600 megawatts and received a load of 1,200 megawatts a moment before it shut down automatically.

Tito said the company managed to gradually resume the power supply by taking power from several other power plants, such as the Suralaya power plant.

"It's possible to do so as all power plants in Java and Bali are interconnected. This way we could reduce the burden at the Muara Karang plant," he said.

According to the company's media release, the electricity failure affected 15 main electricity relay stations in the capital, leaving customers in the city, particularly those residing in the southern and western parts of Greater Jakarta, without electricity.

The affected areas included those located around the National Monument (Monas) Square, Jl. Merdeka Barat, Jl. Sudirman, Jl. Thamrin, Jl. Budi Kemuliaan, Jl. Tanah Abang, Jl. Gajah Mada and Jl. Hayam Wuruk in Central Jakarta.

In South Jakarta, the power failure affected Mampang, Pondok Indah, Senayan, the House of Representatives (DPR), Ulujami, Petukangan and Kebayoran Lama areas.

While areas in West Jakarta included Kebon Jeruk, Angke, Jl. Daan Mogot and nearby Cengkareng, Jatake and Tangerang, Serpong and Bumi Serpong Damai housing complex.

The electricity failure hindered most activities in the city.

Tatik, a teller at a Bank Mandiri in the Sarinah shopping center, said the unfavorable situation forced employees to manually process all transactions.

"We can't process transactions to other branches because our computers aren't operating due to the electricity failure," she said.

A staffer at Harapan Kita Cardiac Hospital said no fatalities occurred at the hospital.

"Indeed, it is dangerous for patients who depend on life- support equipment if the electricity suddenly goes off.

"But all cardiac patients are safe here since we have a generator that turns on automatically if the power from PLN fails," said Dr. Rini Waas, a staffer at the hospital located on Jl. S. Parman in West Jakarta.

Jum'ad, a staffer at Citra gas station on Jl. Petak Barat in Kalideres, West Jakarta, recalled that the station had to close for about one hour when the power failed until the station's damaged generator could be fixed.

"We asked them to leave the station while we repaired the generator to avoid a back up of cars," he said.

According to PLN, a similar failure happened on July 15 last year in Gandul. A kite was the cause of that failure. (asa/bkm/nvn)