Wed, 22 Mar 2000

Public transportation drivers not informed of fuel coupon plan

JAKARTA (JP): Although just 10 days away, public transportation drivers said on Tuesday that they still knew nothing about the planned fuel coupons to be distributed under the government-sponsored fuel subsidy scheme.

Interviewed separately, the drivers insisted that the subsidized coupons would not be enough to cover their daily operations, much more their earnings.

They instead warned of the possibly of hiking bus fares under their own initiatives should they receive less income later.

"It will only help me if the government covers all of the 60 liters of diesel I need every day," said Tarjo, a Kopaja minibus driver.

"If it isn't enough, I will have to hike the fare," he added.

He said he only knew that the minibus fare would be increased from Rp 500 (six U.S. cents) to Rp 1,000 per passenger.

The government has decided to hike premium gasoline from Rp 1,000 to Rp 1,150, diesel from Rp 550 to Rp 600 and kerosene from Rp 280 to Rp 350 per liter by April 1. However, it has also prepared a system to subsidize poor families and public transportation drivers by distributing coupons to them.

Under the system, developed by the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas), a coupon will enable drivers to buy 12 liters of premium for minivans or 20 liters of diesel for buses per day.

Poor families will receive 12 liters of kerosene a month.

Drivers will use those coupons to buy fuel at fuel stations which will pump the fuel directly to their vehicles. The stations can then cash the coupons at state Bank BNI, Bank BRI and Bank Mandiri.

Parman, a driver of a P 38 bus plying the Blok M-Tanjung Priok route said, "So far we haven't been told how to obtain the fuel coupons."

Other drivers were worried that a possible fare increase would only affect their daily income as passengers would reduce their number of trips.

Separately interviewed, councillor Sayogo Hendrosubroto of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) said the fuel component of the fare was only 9.7 percent of the total cost of the business.

"This small percentage won't effect the fare significantly. Perhaps we can increase the fare slightly to cover the fuel hike," he said.

Sayogo, who chairs the City Council's Commission D on Development Affairs, proposed a hike from Rp 300 to Rp 500 for regular buses.

Chairman of the Jakarta chapter of the Land Transportation Owners Association (Organda) Aip Syaifuddin proposed an increase for regular buses of Rp 800.

Several fuel stations have reportedly refused the system as it would add an additional task in cashing the coupons. (nvn)