Wed, 15 Mar 2000

Bus drivers say new levies imposed at terminals too steep

BOGOR (JP): Public bus drivers in Baranangsiang intercity bus terminal complained on Tuesday that the 300 percent increase in terminal levies was too burdensome.

The drivers said they had considered rallying against the levies but eventually discarded the idea so as to avoid direct confrontation with the terminal's authorities.

They said the number of bus passengers had decreased significantly over the past few months while the cost of goods and services had skyrocketed, leaving them unable to cope with the added cost of high levies. They said they hoped that related officials and the local administration would lessen the amount to a more affordable level.

On Feb. 16, the terminal authorities quadrupled levies collected from buses entering the busy terminal.

The levy for a small bus, for example, has been increased to Rp 1,000 (13 U.S. cents) from the previous rate of Rp 300. A bigger bus is now charged Rp 2,000 from Rp 700 previously. A bus parking at the terminal overnight has to pay Rp 7,000 from the previous Rp 5,000 levy.

Bus drivers and their assistants are apparently finding the new levies too burdensome since they also have to pay extra to other officials during trips to their destinations.

"If business was good, Rp 1,000 wouldn't be a problem.

"But when we don't make enough money, such an amount is a big deal for us, the poor folk," Ombi, a driver of small bus plying the Bogor-Jonggol route, said.

Ombi said business had been slow over the past few weeks and he had only managed to make a few thousand rupiah per day.

"Even though it (the levy) is burdensome, I pay it anyway because I don't want to fight with the officials and I want to stay out of trouble for the sake of my job," Ombi said.

Hendra, another driver, said the terminal authorities collect at least four types of levies from the drivers.

"When we enter the terminal, we first have to pay Rp 600. Then when we leave the site we have to pay another Rp 1,000 at the gate. We also have to pay if we park a bus overnight at the terminal.

"Other Rp 5,000 is changed for what they call a levy for the lane," Hendra said.

Bus drivers also have to spend extra money to pay authorities at their destination terminals.

"At the Depok terminal, for example, we have to pay again. So you can imagine the enormous expenses we have in paying levies all through the day," he said.

Baranangsiang terminal chief Priyatna Wiria said the increase in levies was based on Bogor City Bylaw No. 6/1999 which allows the levies charged at terminals to be raised in a bid to gain more regional revenue.

"We target a Rp 675 million revenue from the terminal alone this year," Priyatna said.

But, he said, the increase did not necessarily boost regional revenue as many bus companies had temporarily stopped operating due to the high prices of spare parts and maintenance.

"We used to have at least 900 buses passing in and out of the terminals every day, but now it's only about 600 buses per day," he said. (24/edt)