Tue, 24 Jun 2003

Busway project sparks further controversy

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The busway project, scheduled to commence operation in six months, appears to be unclear, as officials of the city administration issued contradicting statements about the controversial plan.

Irzal Djamal, who chairs the team responsible for the project, denied that the city administration had appointed private companies to procure 60 buses for the bus rapid transit (BRT), or busway project.

Earlier last week, however, head of the City Transportation Agency Rustam Effendy said two companies -- Hino and Mercedes -- had been named to procure the buses to serve the 12.9-kilometer corridor between Blok M, South Jakarta, and Kota, West Jakarta.

The companies were appointed without a tender as the buses had to be ready before the December deadline, he added.

Rustam defended his administration's move to appoint the two companies without a public bidding, because it was an emergency.

However, Presidential Decree No. 18/2000 requires all regional administrations to open a tender for any project worth at least Rp 50 million in their provinces, except in emergencies.

Rustam said that the New Armada assembling company had also been appointed, to assemble the 60 buses.

Meanwhile, Irzal said Hino and Mercedes were appointed only to procure two buses used for a recent trial of the busway project, and not the entire fleet of 60 buses.

He could not say whether the procurement of the buses would be passed through a tender mechanism or through the direct appointment of companies.

"If the procurement is to be held without a tender, they (the city administration) should explain why. The procedure must comply with the presidential decree," Irzal told The Jakarta Post over the weekend.

He could not say whether the time constraint -- the busway project was initiated in 2001 -- could be categorized as an emergency under the presidential decree on procuring goods and services for government institutions.

Irzal insisted that the procuring of the 60 buses should abide by all stipulations in the decree.

Article 17, Paragraph 4 of the presidential decree stipulates that there are only four conditions under which regional administrations are permitted to forego a tender for development projects.

The conditions are as follows: One, if the value of the project is less than Rp 50 million; two, if none of the participants are eligible to bid in a tender; three, if the project cites emergency/specific conditions approved by a minister, head of a non-ministerial institution, governor, mayor or directors of state-owned companies; and four, if there is only one supplying company.

However, the "emergency condition" was not clearly defined.

Governor Sutiyoso said he could understand why the procurement of the 60 buses should proceed without a tender.

The Jakarta administration has allocated Rp 50 billion from the city budget to procure the 60 buses. The figure is part of the Rp 117 billion earmarked to fund the busway project.

Rustam said more money was needed to finance the busway project, arguing that Rp 117 billion was inadequate to cover the security costs and public campaigns for the project.

He refused to mention how much additional money would be needed, saying that his office was in the process of calculating it.