Mon, 02 May 2005


PT PLN threatens to cut power in Ambon schools

M. Azis Tunny The Jakarta Post/Ambon

State electricity company PT PLN threatened on Friday to cut electricity to 27 schools in Ambon city as the schools had not paid the bills for a number of years.

The company's manager for Maluku and North Maluku operations, Setiabudi Suhud, said on Friday that the total amount of arrears, some dating back to 2000, had reached Rp 375.4 million (US$41,711).

"This is annoying. If they have not settled the debt by May 2, we will cut electricity to those schools," said Setiabudi.

The electricity cut will be in effect for 30 days. If the schools still have not paid within 30 days, the state company will permanently cut electricity to the state schools, he said.

"All of the electricity infrastructure (wires, poles, meters) will be disassembled if the schools still fail to pay after 30 days," said Setiabudi.

He said that he had also sent a letter to Ambon Mayor MJ Papilaja to help resolve the problem. Responding to the demand, the mayor, through a letter dated April 26, asked the electricity company to extend the deadline.

"However, enough is enough. We have warned the schools for a long time, and they've ignored all the warnings," said Setiabudi.

Out of the 27 schools, Ambon 1 Vocational High School is the biggest debtor with arrears between August 2002 and April 2005 at Rp 214.6 million (US$23,844).

The second biggest debtor is Waiheru 4 Vocational High School, with arrears between May last year and April this year reaching Rp 44.2 million.

"The schools are supported by the state, so they should have no problem with the electricity bills. Apparently, they have used electricity lavishly and now lack the ability to pay the bills," said Setiabudi.

Separately, chief of the education and sports agency in Ambon Albert Tabalessy confirmed that the mayor had asked PT PLN to extend the deadline. "Through the letter, the mayor has said that the bills will be paid in stages until June this year," said Tabalessy.