Tue, 23 Aug 1994

Ferries start trial operation to Seribu Islands

JAKARTA (JP): Two luxurious ferries owned by a state-owned company under the Ministry of Transportation have begun plying the Ancol-Seribu Islands route.

"The ferries have been operating since early this month," Imran M. Gilipanda, an official of the Jakarta Office of the transportation ministry, said yesterday.

The ferries, KM Betok I and KM Betok II, which are owned by the state-owned PT Angkutan Sungai Danau dan Penyeberangan (ASDP), will travel the route twice a day, at 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., in each direction.

When Betok I leaves Kelapa Island for Jakarta, Betok II will travel from Jakarta to Tidung Island. Both islands are parts of the Seribu chain.

At 11 knots per hour, Betok I will cover the 24-mile distance between the marina and Kelapa Island in three hours. Betok II will require two-and-a-half hours to cruise the 20-mile distance between the marina and Tidung Island.

Gilipanda said that the government would likely suffer financial losses in the initial stages of operation due to the light passenger load.

"At present only between 10 and 40 people use the ferries per trip, or far below the 117-seat capacity," Gilipanda said. "But its doesn't matter because it is a pilot project aimed at boosting the economy of the islanders."

According to the National Development and Planning Board (Bappenas), four of 11 subdistricts rated as less developed areas in Jakarta are found in the Seribu Islands.

Some residents of the Seribu Islands, however, have asked that the government lower fares to make the trip more affordable for the islanders.

"If necessary, there should be two different rates. Local islanders should be able to pay a lower rate than other passengers," an official of the Seribu Islands district said.

The ferry fares were set at Rp 3,500 ($1.59) for between Jakarta and Tidung Island, and Rp 4,000 ($1.79) for the serving linking Jakarta and Kelapa Island.

The islanders had previously been forced to pay Rp 1,500 for a trip by a small boat to Rawasaban village in Tangerang and another Rp 3,500 for the bus journey from Tangerang to Jakarta.

Subsidized rates

Gilipanda, however, hinted that the government would not lower the fares because it had, in fact, already subsidized the operation of the air-conditioned ferries while being forced to pay rent to the owner of the Marina, which belongs to the Taman Impian Jaya Ancol recreational park.

He said the government is currently developing better, permanent wharfs on Pramuka Island and Muara Karang subdistrict on the mainland for the ferries, but he did not explain whether the operation of the new wharfs would result in lower rates.

"We're going to use the Marina only for a year pending the completion of the Muara Karang wharf," he said, adding that the infrastructure on Muara Karang is more complete than the one in Marina.

Abdul Karim TJ, the head of the Jakarta Office of the transportation ministry, said earlier that the operation of the ferries, which cost Rp 1.9 billion ($891,600), will also benefit domestic tourists who cannot afford to sail by private boats, which charge higher fares. (09)