Thu, 30 Mar 2000

Jasa Marga for toll road hike

BANDUNG (JP): State-owned toll road operator PT Jasa Marga is scheduled to meet Minister of Communications Agum Gumelar on Friday to request his approval of their proposal to increase tolls for eight turnpikes.

Company spokesman David Wijayatno said after a meeting between the company and consumers on Wednesday that PT Jasa Marga would also report the valuable input from the meeting.

Following strong public opposition, the company has embarked on a campaign to publicize its plan to increase the tolls.

Meetings with consumers have been held in Jakarta, Surabaya and Bandung to gather input.

Jasa Marga operational director Marijanto told consumers in Bandung on Wednesday the company had no other choice to cover its huge expenses but to increase tolls by 30 percent.

Marijanto said the increase was sought for Jakarta's Jagorawi, Jakarta-Cikampek and Jakarta-Tangerang highways, Tangerang-Merak and Padalarang-Cileunyi in West Java and Surabaya-Gempol in East Java and North Sumatra's Belawan-Medan-Tanjung Morawa.

However, the toll hike has been decried by members of the public, councillors and consumer activists. Jasa Marga has been accused of ignoring the interests of the public.

A consumer activist said the government and the toll road operators invariably argued the toll hike was to cover maintenance costs which were much higher than their revenue.

Marijanto said his company was left "dizzy" in trying to curb the operational costs of the turnpikes, accounting for 80 percent of the total revenue.

"Jasa Marga collects some Rp 700 billion annually from the tolls. We have debts totaling Rp 400 billion. This is very burdening."

He said the 30 percent increase would be ideal, judging from the fact the tolls were not increased for 10 years, while the operational costs rose from day to day.

He promised the company would improve its public service in line with the toll hike. (25/sur)