Thu, 04 May 2000

KAI shifts collision blame to device theft

JAKARTA (JP): While human error was blamed as the main cause of the head-on collision between two trains last Monday, state railway company PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) has shifted the culpability to rampant thefts of its supporting devices.

"Signal transmission defects had a share in Monday's accident.

"Such defects occur at our Central Control System (CTC) in Manggarai, South Jakarta.

"The crash also happened because the voltage regulators, widely known as impedance bonds, which were supposed to transmit the signals had been the target of thieves," the company's spokesman for Greater Jakarta, Zainal Abidin, said on Wednesday.

He said the impedance bonds were vital to the operation of the trains throughout the city.

"The impedance bonds transmit electricity from the electricity relay stations to the trains. The electricity is needed by the electricity-powered trains.

"The devices also transmit signals from the respective railway stations and the Central Control System at Manggarai to the running trains. The signals show the positions of the respective trains," said Zainal.

He said the devices also connected the trains with the railway crossing posts.

"Once a train is approaching a railway crossing, the nearby impedance bond will transmit a signal to the official at the post.

"If the impedance bond is not in its place, the official will not be able to locate the train, which will then pass the post undetected," he said.

He said thousands of such devices had been installed along the railway connections throughout the city.

"As an example, PT KAI has installed 140 impedance bonds along the 18-kilometer route from Jakarta to Tangerang," he said.

The spokesman said the theft of KAI's impedance bonds had been rampant in the past few months.

"As many as 147 impedance bonds have been stolen since October last year. One impedance bond costs Rp 33 million (US$4,400), so we have suffered a total loss of some Rp 5.1 billion," he said.

Zainal said the company found it hard to replace the stolen devices.

"It takes a long time to get new impedance bonds as we have to wait for up to six months. We import them from the UK, Germany and France," he said.

Zainal said people stole the 50-kilogram devices for the spools of copper they contained, which weigh approximately one to two kilograms.

"The spools are worth about Rp 17,000 on the market," he said.

Zainal said the company had made strong efforts to prevent the thefts by, among other things, constructing iron cages.

"But again we suffered, as they (burglars) broke the cages," he said.

He said the company conducted regular inspections to minimize the stealing, but they had not helped much.

"People want us to stop the thefts. But it is impossible to have one person guarding one impedance bond," he said.


Meanwhile, president of PT KAI Edie Haryoto confirmed on Wednesday that he had sent a letter of resignation to Minister of Communications Agum Gumelar following Monday's fatal crash.

"This (the resignation) is part of my responsibility to the people," he told reporters, without revealing when the letter was sent to Agum.

"I first asked for my resignation two days after the April 28 train crash in South Jakarta. I went to the minister's home asking to quit. But he gave no response," he said.

"Now my will to resign has increased after a series of train accidents," he said.

Agum said on Wednesday he had accepted the resignation request of Santo Budiono as director general of ground transportation but had yet to approve Edie's resignation.

Edie said, procedurally, he would continue to work for one month before he resigned.

Born in Yogyakarta in 1952, Edie has held the top post at PT KAI since August 1998. (25/asa)