Fri, 17 Nov 2000

Perkasa buses need test-drive for quality, Sutiyoso urges

JAKARTA (JP): The city administration will ask the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications to examine the overall quality and performance of Perkasa buses, Governor Sutiyoso said on Thursday.

A test-drive of the vehicles will be required before final approval can be given for the purchase of 2,000 Perkasa buses by city bus operators, Sutiyoso said.

The purchase is part of the city's program to replace the capital's aging fleet of 5,000 buses, the governor said after meeting with executives of the Jakarta chapter of the Association of Land Transportation Owners (Organda).

The evaluation, Sutiyoso added, would be carried out shortly after the first bus left the plant in Subang, West Jakarta.

The governor gave no date for the test, nor did he give a time line for when the buses would be completed by the problem-plagued PT Texmaco Perkasa Engineering, which has so far been known as a local producer of trucks mostly purchased by the military.

"We need the quality tests because we are worried that the general public may become the victims (should the buses be of poor quality). That is why we need the test," Sutiyoso said.

Organda chairman Aip Sjarifuddin confirmed the plan and supported the governor's caution and anxiety for the safety of future passengers of the Perkasa-built buses.

"Organda is still unsure about the capability of these buses, and so far we have only signed a memorandum of understanding with the company.

"The results of the test will further determine whether we are going to buy these buses or not," Aip said.

He also said the Perkasa buses had several design weaknesses, such as the brake system and steering wheel.

Organda wants some changes to these systems, he said.

"We have to make sure these buses are able to serve the city's commuters, because it is very important for the interests of the general public," Aip added.

Speaking before legislators at the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Sutiyoso said he gave his support to the recent signing of the memorandum of understanding between Organda and Texmaco based solely on the request of the central government.

He said that personally, he was not sure Texmaco could manufacture quality buses.

Under the memorandum, Organda is required to help market the Perkasa buses to city bus operators, while the company has promised to be able to supply enough buses to meet the city's needs.

According to Aip, Organda plans to hold another meeting with Texmaco sometime next week, in which it will inform the company about plans to test-drive the buses and possible design changes. (dja/07)