Fri, 19 Aug 1994

Organda insists on raising fares for public transit

JAKARTA (JP): The Jakarta Chapter of Public Transport Owners' Organization (Organda DKI) has insisted on its proposal for an increase in the fares of public transit vehicles despite the government's strong objection towards the proposal.

"We will keep demanding for an increase," Aip Sjarifuddin, the Organda DKI's chairman, told The Jakarta Post yesterday after a hearing with the City Council's Commission D on development.

Aip added that Governor Surjadi Soedirdja had actually agreed to his proposal, which was overruled by Minister of Transportation Haryanto Dhanutirto who had stated there would be no increase in the fares of public transit vehicles in Jakarta this year.

Haryanto had intervened in the case because as Minister of Transportation he is the patron for any traffic and road transportation affairs in the country.

Aip was referring to the July 11 proposal to the governor's office by Organda DKI for a 23 to 120-percent increase in the fares of public transportation.

According to Aip the proposed increase includes taxis, city buses and inter-city buses. Because the fares of the three are fixed by the government it must obtain the government's approval before the organization can raise them.

The proposal does not propose an increase in the fares of cargo trucks, tankers or 12-seat minibuses, such as Mikrolet, KWK and Komilet, because their fares are determined by the market forces.

Aip said that Organda actually wishes that the government would allow the decision on fares of taxis and the buses to be based on consensus between the public and operators of transportation.

"But we understand it is highly impossible as it involves the interests of the public," said Aip, adding that hence demanding for subsidies such as tax exemption and other discount facilities from the government sounds more reasonable.

Dispensatory measures

Purnomo Prawiro, an executive director of Organda who accompanied Aip during the hearing, also stressed that tax exemption and other provisional measures, such as special discounts for obtaining plate numbers, transfer of ownership documents and roadworthiness tests would help.

Purnomo, who is also operation director of Blue Bird taxi company, said the 10 percent fee for the transfer of ownership documents for taxis, for instance, was often over charged and higher than other type of cars used for public vehicles, such as minibuses and wide-bodied buses.

"In practice we must pay double the standard fees, " Purnomo said.

Purnomo also said that an increase in fares is unavoidable as fuel prices have been increased twice since the public transport fares were last increased in 1991.

Izak A. Rumaedi, Organda's chairman for the taxi division, also said that if the government finally approves the proposed increase, the fare hike is, in most cases, not in proportion with the mounting expenses Organda's members had to bear due to an increase in fuel prices and spare parts.

Another financial problem faced by Organda's members, Aip said, was that 80 percent of them purchased their vehicles by borrowing money from leasing companies which usually charged them higher interest rates than banks.

Most of Organda's members are individuals who operate their vehicles as public transport and banks won't extend loans to them because they usually cannot meet banks' requirements.(arf)