Wed, 23 Aug 2000

Govt to facilitate efforts to procure new public buses

JAKARTA (JP): Governor Sutiyoso renewed his commitment on Tuesday to help public transportation owners procure new and environmentally friendly buses through a soft loan from a Chinese banking consortium.

"The city administration is committed to prioritizing the procurement of new buses as part of our service to the public, especially those in the lower income brackets," he said at City Hall.

He said the administration discussed the matter with representatives of the Jakarta office of the Organization of Land Transportation Owners and the City Traffic and Land Transportation Agency.

The administration revealed in May a Rp 1.5-trillion (US$183 million) plan to replace city buses in three years using the Chinese soft loan.

"Our representatives are now in Beijing to discuss the soft loan reimbursement, as bus operators will have to reach a mutual agreement on the matter," he said.

Sutiyoso said the Chinese consortium had given its commitment to support the program, adding the first batch of 1,000 regular buses were expected to start operation as soon as December.

"We need 3,000 buses and the delivery will be in three phases," he said, stressing that old and poorly maintained buses would have to stop operating or be sent to other regions soon after the first shipment of buses arrived.

Public buses in the capital are notorious for their poor service, high fuel emissions and their dilapidated condition.

In his revised accountability speech on Monday, Sutiyoso, quoting official data, said some 1,420 buses in the city had been in operation for more than 20 years; 1,860 buses had been in operation between 15 and 20 years; 4,000 buses between 10 and 15 years; 7,890 between five and 10 years; and 7,000 buses had been on the streets for under five years.

The Chinese buses are priced at Rp 250 million each for regular buses and Rp 160 million each for minibuses. The buses will use liquefied gas instead of gasoline or diesel fuel.

"However, we still have to wait for the results of the negotiations by our representatives. This is pure business," the governor stressed.

Sutiyoso said he was optimistic comfortable and environmentally friendly buses would no longer be just a dream.

"It's my obsession to see cleaner and more representative buses with affordable rates serving the public during my governorship," he said.

The governor also called on bus operators to improve their management and promised the administration would cut the costs of bureaucracy, all aimed at providing cheaper bus services.

"We still have a lot to do in the transportation sector," he said. (lup)