Mon, 10 Apr 2000

Uncertainty shrouds planned bus strike

JAKARTA (JP): While bus owners insist the planned strike will go ahead on Monday, bus drivers are still debating the move as striking would mean losing their income for as long as the strike lasts.

"I've heard about the planned strike, but I'm not sure whether I will drive tomorrow or not," Subari, a driver of Kopaja 608 minibus plying the Blok M-Tanah Abang route, told The Jakarta Post.

"I'll wait for a last-minute announcement from my employer.

"But I hope the strike won't last too long because I don't have any other source of income," he said.

Dion, also a Kopaja driver, said staging a strike would only cause him financial losses.

"Joining the strike will mean a loss of income for the day. But I don't dare to oppose the plan as I could be fired as a consequence."

He said that in his experience an increase in fares were usually followed with an increase in the rental he must pay the bus owner.

"That's why a fare increase won't affect our income," he said.

Conductor Iksal said that by striking he could avoid being considered uncooperative by his colleagues.

"If I oppose the call, it could be a disaster as the vehicle can be damaged by those opposed to such a move," he said.

Kopaja driver Wiganto said fare increases would only cause arguments with passengers.

The chairman of the Jakarta chapter of the Indonesian Transportation Workers Union (SPTI), Karmen Siregar, shared the drivers' concerns, saying the strike would only burden the drivers and conductors.

"The owners may have enough money to support their families if the strike goes on for a week or two, but what about the drivers and conductors? They rely solely on their daily income," he said over the phone.

He also said owners of Metro mini buses would probably not join the strike.

Kopaja minibuses and Metro mini buses are owned by individual members of the companies.

Drivers of private Steady Safe bus firm also voiced concern.

"I've read the notice from Organda (the Organization of Land Transportation Owners), but the company has yet to decide whether we'll join the strike or not," a driver, who asked for anonymity, said.

"We're expecting an announcement by midnight."

Passengers also expressed concern at the planned strike.

"I don't know how I'll get to my campus in Lenteng Agung, South Jakarta, if buses don't run," said Putut, a first year university student.

"I don't know how to get to my office in Cengkareng tomorrow (Monday), it's too far away," said Ediputra of Bekasi.

Another passenger, Rengges, warned of the possibility of mass anger toward buses operating during the strike.

Meanwhile, Rutty of Bendungan Hilir in Central Jakarta said she would ask a friend to give her a lift to her office in Pulo Gadung, East Jakarta.

The possibility of a lack of transportation is also worrying vendors who operate on buses.

"Well, I hope they will cancel the plan. Otherwise, I'll lose my daily income of Rp 20,000," said vendor Nurdin.

City spokesman Muhayat said city administration had made arrangements with related agencies to cope with the planned strike.

"City residents should not worry about the planned strike because we have prepared alternative transportation means," he said over the telephone.

"Head of the City Land Transportation Agency (DLLAJ) Buyung Atang has coordinated with the military, police and Ministry of Communications to provide backup transport," he added.


Meanwhile, Jakarta Military Commander Maj. Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu pledged his support to provide backup transportation.

"We'll provide 307 buses and trucks to anticipate the strike," he said on the sidelines of a ceremony to commemorate the Indonesian Air Force's 54th anniversary at Halim Perdanakusuma air base, East Jakarta.

He, however, expected the planned strike would be canceled as it would only burden people.

Earlier on Friday, city military command spokesman Lt. Col. Djazairi Nachrowi said not all buses would be affected by the strike.

"Intelligence reports reveal that Organda's call for a strike didn't receive support from all of its members," he said as quoted by Antara.

Minister of Communications Agum Gumelar has instructed directors of state-owned bus companies PPD and Damri to prepare their bus fleets to anticipate the planned strike, the news agency reported. (08/ida/nvn)