City goes green in battle against gridlock

To provide adequate and environmental-friendly public transportation in the city, the Jakarta administration will allocate Rp 1 trillion (US$86.75 million) in 2014 budget for public transportation’s conversion to natural gas.

The money will cover the construction of gas-filling stations (SPBG), mobile refueling units (MRU) and other supporting infrastructure.

Deputy Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama said at City Hall on Friday that the current eight SPBG would not be adequate for the hundreds of minibuses and TransJakarta buses. 

“The city administration, through city-owned enterprise PT Jakarta Propertindo’s subsidiary PT Jakarta Energy Utama, will build five new SPBG,” he said, adding that Pluit and Ancol were two locations in North Jakarta that would have their own SPBG. 

Ahok said further that the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry was committed to building 40 SPBG in Jakarta.

“We will help the ministry with the land acquisition,” he said, adding that the project would be completed by the end of 2014.

Energy and industry agency head Andi Baso Mappapoleonro said on Friday that the largest portion of funds would be spent on the procurement of MRU. 

“The cost of 20 MRU will be around Rp 400 billion to Rp 600 billion with an estimated price of at least Rp 20 billion per unit,” he said.

The construction of a SPBG would cost around Rp 15 billion.

Andi said a small portion of the budget would be used for a network of pipes. 

He explained that the city administration, in cooperation with the state-owned oil company PT Pertamina and the private sector, had targeted to build seven SPBGs. 

“The city would have 20 SPBGs to cover all the TransJakarta buses serving the 12 corridors,” he said.

The city administration planned to procure 376 gas-fueled TransJakarta buses and 360 minibuses this year and 1,000 more TransJakarta buses and minibuses in 2014. 

According to Andi, the new minibuses would replace the old buses still in operation. The purchases were part of the city modernization efforts.

Analysts predicted that Jakarta was expected to come to a complete standstill with total gridlock by 2014 if no measures were taken to reduce the number of cars and make more new roads. The number of vehicles on the road has risen by 11.26 percent every year while the number of new roads has increased only by 0.01 percent each year.

Ahok also said the central government should have taken strategic measures that would have helped the city resolve its acute traffic problem.

“The central government, for instance, should phase out the fuel subsidy and transfer it to many other pro-poor programs so that the majority of people would take public transportation, instead of private cars. Or the government could provide free public transportation,” he said.

Andi lamented that the central government had been tardy in addressing the annual budget allocation for the fuel subsidy.

The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry invited 63 officials from provincial administrations to familiarize themselves with the government’s program to cut subsidized fuel consumption. Andi said the government would use cards to implement a non-cash payment scheme for motorists to buy subsidized fuel in order to see their fuel consumption. 

“The card could inform fuel stations whether a particular car passed its subsidized fuel limit,” he said, adding that he was not fully aware of the details of the program and so was unsure if the new method would be effective.

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