Wed, 25 Sep 2002

Railway company out-of-order

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

One third of the almost 400 coaches belonging to the state-owned railway company PT KAI serving Greater Jakarta cannot be operated due to their poor condition.

PT KAI President Director Umar Berto said on Wednesday that the company could operate only 252 coaches, carrying 450,000 passengers daily.

"We cannot operate the rest due to their poor condition," he said at the launching of the newly-established Indonesian Railway Watch.

IRW Executive Director Taufik Hidayat said that this number of coaches was far from enough to serve people in the Greater Jakarta area. Ideally, the company would need some 650 coaches.

Most of the coaches here are aging - the oldest ones, 20 coaches in all, were built in 1976.

Earlier on Wednesday, the new watchdog organization revealed the findings of a study it carried out in cooperation with the Indonesian Consumers' Foundation (YLKI).

The study revealed that PT KAI has still been unable to improve its services even though the budget for maintenance in 2001 was increased by 213 percent over the previous year.

Taufik said in the report that in 2001, PT KAI spent Rp 14.71 billion on the maintenance of the coaches operated in Greater Jakarta.

"The hike in the maintenance budget has not significantly improved the service," he said.

The report says that in 2000, KAI spent Rp 6.9 billion on the maintenance of 350 coaches. The number of coaches that were capable of being operated amounted to 190 units. In 2002, despite the supply of 72 used coaches from Japan, the number of coaches that were capable of being operated in Greater Jakarta only amounted to 204.

"It means that there were more coaches that could not be operated in 2001 than in 2000 even though the funds allocated for maintenance had increased significantly," said Taufik.

Rail travel is a popular choice for employees living in Jakarta's satellite cities of Depok, Bogor, Tangerang and Bekasi for commuting to Jakarta. The state of the trains, however, is still far from what is hoped for by the public in terms of frequency, security and comfort.