Fri, 22 Dec 2000

PT KA agrees to pay Rp 17.7b electricity bill

JAKARTA (JP): State-owned railway company PT Kereta Api (PT KA) has agreed to pay Rp 17.7 billion (US$ 1.8 million) in electricity bills dating back to January 1999 for its Bogor railway station, an official said on Thursday.

"We are still negotiating with PLN (the state electricity company), so we won't have to pay that much," PT KA spokesman Gatot Wibowo told The Jakarta Post by phone.

"But if PLN insists that we have to pay that amount, then what else can we say, we'll pay it. We cannot neglect our passengers," Gatot said.

PLN sent a letter to PT KA on Dec. 15, saying that it would cut off the power to its railway station on Dec. 19 after it claimed PT KA had failed to pay its overdue electricity bill.

However, PLN sent another letter to PT KA on Tuesday saying it would delay cutting off the station's electricity, but insisted that PT KA should pay the bill.

At least 35,000 Bogor residents take electric commuter trains plying the Bogor-Jakarta route every day to work in the capital.

Gatot said the Rp 17.7 billion was not a debt, but a result of the conversion of the electricity subscription rate.

The official said PLN used to apply a special rate to PT KA, formerly a government agency, until it became a limited liability company in January 1999.

"We've talked about this earlier with PLN, asking them to continue charging us with the special rate for the railway station because we consider commuter trains in the Greater Jakarta area to be a public service," Gatot said.

He added that the fare for the route was too low to cover operational costs, including the electricity bills, so PT KA had to look after operational expenditures for the route.

"The Bogor-Jakarta route's monthly operational cost is Rp 7 billion, while we receive Rp 4 billion from ticket sales," Gatot said, adding that the electricity bills alone, at a special rate, cost the company Rp 2.5 billion each month.

The spokesman said PT KA had earlier refused to pay a new rate for the route and PLN had earlier agreed to continue charging PT KA with the special rate.

"But suddenly they sent us a letter saying they would disconnect the power to Bogor railway station unless we pay the Rp 17.7 billion," Gatot said. (jaw)