Tue, 30 May 2000

City to procure new buses from China

JAKARTA (JP): City public operators welcomed on Monday an offer to acquire new, environmentally friendly buses through a soft loan disbursement from the government of the People's Republic of China.

"We are glad about the soft loan offer because it will help us improve service to the public," the chairman of the Jakarta office of the Organization of Land Transportation Owners (Organda), Aip Syarifuddin, told reporters at City Hall after a meeting with Governor Sutiyoso.

Present at the meeting were Made Sudiarsa, expert staff to the communications minister, the head of the City Traffic and Land Transportation Agency (DLLAJ), Buyung Atang, and city spokesman Muhayat.

Aip, however, asked the city administration to help persuade the Chinese government to ensure the operators be given a special interest rate for the loan.

"We must be sure that the loan is affordable to all bus operators in the city," he said.

He said the organization expected that the rate should be lower than the 12 percent per annum offered by the Chinese government, and the maturity period to be more than five years.

"Based on experience, public bus operators can repay the loan in a period of five to seven years, depending on their bus routes," he said.

"We will take the loan if it's cheap enough for us to repay it," he added.

China offered the loan during a visit to the country by State Minister of Cooperatives, Small and Medium Enterprises Zarkasih Nur earlier this month.

The Chinese buses are offered at Rp 250 million (US$29,171) each for regular buses and Rp 160 million each for minibuses. The buses will be made more environmentally friendly by using liquefied gas instead of gasoline or diesel fuel.

Public buses here are notorious for poor service, emitting high fuel emissions and their dilapidated condition.

The city administration is planning a massive Rp 1.5 trillion replacement program of city buses in three years using the Chinese soft loan.

Meanwhile, Buyung Atang told the governor that there was another option to acquire the loan.

"We can also use the export loan provided by the Chinese Exim Bank, which can be disbursed in three to six months. It is faster than the soft loan, which needs a longer time to process as it needs coordination with the offices of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Finance and Industry and the Ministry of Finance," he said.

Buyung said by January this year, there were 5,411 regular buses operating in the city, instead of the registered 6,454 buses, and 4,981 minibuses. He said there were also 12,764 public minivans running on the streets.

"Most current buses are also aging. In total, we need to replace 7,718 buses in three years, 3,707 of which are regular buses, while the remaining 4,011 are minibuses," he said.

"There are 3,251 buses which have been in operation for more than 14 years this year. In 2001, there will be 3,181 buses which will have been in service for more than nine years and 1,286 buses which will have done more than seven," he added. (nvn)