Sat, 09 Oct 1999

Sutiyoso approves bus firm subsidies

JAKARTA (JP): Governor Sutiyoso said on Friday he had signed a decree which would grant subsidies to the city's bus firms, a move certain to head off a planned mass strike by bus drivers and owners.

"I signed the letter of approval yesterday (Thursday). But, I will verify it again with my staff," Sutiyoso said.

The governor did not specify the date the decree would become effective.

City Council Speaker Edy Waluyo urged the city administration on Wednesday to keep its promise to issue a ruling granting subsidies to bus firms in a bid to avoid a mass strike by drivers and owners.

The bus owners earlier said that the prolonged economic crisis had increased their firms' operational costs. They said maintenance expenditure and the cost of spare parts had skyrocketed.

Sutiyoso promised on Sept. 10 that the city would grant subsidies to the city's bus firm owners in the form of a 50 percent discount on several taxes and fees.

"The subsidies will take effect from next week," Sutiyoso said last month.

After news of the promise reached the bus firms, plans for a mass strike were canceled.

However, the bus owners, grouped in the Association of Land Transportation Owners (Organda), renewed their threats on Tuesday after learning that the city administration was yet to grant the subsidies.

In July, Sutiyoso proposed a bus fare hike to the previous City Council, but the call was rejected.

The new council, installed on Aug. 25, has also rejected the proposal, despite a plea from Sutiyoso to study the proposal in depth.

He proposed a Rp 200 (2 US cents) fare increase for regular buses, minibuses, limited seat (Patas) buses and air-conditioned Patas buses. The student fare for regular buses would be doubled to Rp 200.

Sutiyoso earlier said the subsidies would reduce the city's income by Rp 7 billion ($875,000) a year. (jun)