Thu, 30 Aug 2001

Public transportation vehicles down by 40%

BANDUNG (JP): The number of public vehicles has plummeted by 40 percent in the last three years due to the lingering financial crisis to have hit transportation companies, according to the Association of Land Transportation Owners (Organda).

Dadan Irawan Sarpingi, chairman of Organda Central Board, said here on Tuesday that many transportation owners had failed to afford to cover the repair costs for their damaged vehicles.

"The price of auto parts is still high, despite the fact that the rupiah is now stronger against the U.S. dollar," Dadan said.

"Auto part shop owners usually claim that they bought items at old prices when the rupiah was weaker."

In an effort to be more economical, transportation firm owners usually 'cannibalize' vehicle parts, according to Dadan. "Non- essential parts of vehicles are taken out for other needy vehicles."

Organda recorded in 1997 that there were 28,000 buses and 800,000 urban transit vehicles operating across the entire country. "Now there are only a total of 500,000 vehicles operating, including bus and urban transit vehicles."

"The figure will steadily decrease by a further seven or eight percent next year, unless the government takes prompt and effective steps to help vehicles owners."

Organda had asked the government and Commission IV of the House of Representatives (DPR) on numerous occasions to pay more attention to their lingering problems.

"But there have been no positive policies set by the government following the uncertain political situation. We want the government to provide us with subsidies."

"We don't want the government to increase transportation fares. This will only place extra costs on the public, rather than solving the problem."

The reduction of vehicle taxes would also be preferable, he added. (25/sur)