Wed, 12 Sep 2001

Governor considers Slovakian buses for Jakarta

JAKARTA (JP): The city administration announced on Tuesday that it was considering purchasing Slovakian buses to modernize the city's public buses.

"As European vehicles, the Slovakians buses are of good quality, although their prices are a bit higher than the Chinese buses," Sutiyoso told reporters after a meeting with Slovakian Embassy staff here and executives of a Slovakian bus producer.

Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso asked members of the City's Organization of Land Transportation Owners (Organda) to also consider including the Slovakians buses in their new fleets.

But the governor stopped short of mentioning the name of the producer and prices of the buses.

He said the bus producer had agreed to allow the city administration to import the chassis, without the bus body, to lower the price and that they also promised to build an assembling company here which would further reduce the price.

"Organda will meet the Slovakian bus producer soon to discuss the possibility of purchasing the buses," he said.

Besides the Slovakian producer, Sutiyoso said several bus producers from Hungary, China and South Korea had also submitted their proposals.

He said the administration required good quality, gas-fueled buses which could last a long time but at competitive prices.

Chinese bus producer Dhong Feng earlier offered their medium and big buses at prices ranging between Rp 250 million (US$27,777) and Rp 350 million each.

Sutiyoso revealed that the city needs at least 8,000 new buses in its modernization program including the replacement of the old state-owned PPD buses.

Jakarta has more than 24,000 buses including those owned by private firms but since the economic crisis hit the country in 1997 only 65 percent of them are still in operation.

Discussions are ongoing regarding the hand over of the supervision of the state-owned PPD buses from the Ministry of Transportation to the city administration, he said.

"We are now discussing the number of PPD employees. Should the company be handed over to us, the number of employees must be significantly reduced," Sutiyoso said.

With only 2,000 buses currently in operation PPD has more than 20,000 employees. Ideally, the number of employees should be about half of that figure, he said.

Sutiyoso said the administration could no longer rely on local bus producer PT Texmaco since it had failed to fulfill its commitment.

"Texmaco had promised to produce 400 buses by February this year, but they failed to deliver them," he said.

Organda signed a memorandum of understanding with Texmaco in December last year to purchase some 400 Texmaco Perkasa buses from the company.

But the company reportedly could not produce the buses since no financial institution was willing to finance the production.

Texmaco launched their air-conditioned buses in a well- publicized ceremony in July attended by city councillors and Organda executives. The company reportedly received financial backing from state-owned Bank Mandiri.

An official of the City's Land Transportation Agency (DLLAJ) who refused to be named, said that none of the Perkasa buses were in use on the city's streets.

"It seems that they only launched the bus project, but production was not continued," the official said on Tuesday.

Organda's executives, who attended the launching ceremony in July, could not be reached for comment. (jun)