More carmakers caught in headlights of VW engine-rigging scandal

More carmakers caught in headlights of VW engine-rigging scandal
Volkswagen has admitted it installed illegal software into 11 million 2.0 liter and 3.0 liter diesel engines worldwide (AFP Photo/Josh Edelson)

Volkswagen emissions scandal

Missing MH370 likely to have disintegrated mid-flight: experts

Missing MH370 likely to have disintegrated mid-flight: experts
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 commercial jet.

QZ8501 (AirAsia)

Leaders see horror of French Alps crash as probe gathers pace

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Two dead, three missing in Indonesia plane crash: official

Banda Aceh, Indonesia (ANTARA News) - Two people were killed and another two critically injured when a light navy plane crashed in Indonesia's Aceh province Sunday, an official and reports said.

The Nomad aircraft crashed on Weh island, north off the provincial capital of Banda Aceh shortly after it took off at 11:00 am (0400 GMT), Munawarliza Zainal, mayor of Sabang city on Weh, told AFP.

Zainal said four of the seven crew were found in "critical condition," while three others are still missing. Two of the survivors later died in hospital, state news agency Antara reported.

Navy and police launched rescue teams to find three other missing passengers. The Sabang navy base commander was reported to be among them.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Analysts call for cleaner air

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The city seems to have taken up a new hobby: establishing Car Free Days. On Dec. 30 it will celebrate the third such day in four months.

This time it will be held in two areas: Jl. Sudirman and Thamrin in Central and South Jakarta and Old Town in West Jakarta.

The city calculates that during the last Car Free Day in November, emissions decreased by 40 percent.

However, transportation analysts say such events alone will not have significant, lasting impacts on Jakarta's air quality.

"Car Free Day is not enough," said Damantoro, transportation and environment program officer at Swisscontact.

"The idea of Car Free Day is to reduce the use of private vehicles. But if public transportation is not improving, the goal will not be reached," he said.

Bambang Susantono of the Indonesian Transportation Society urged the administration to improve public transit.

He said more people would use it if it were safe, affordable, reliable and comfortable.

In 2005, the city enjoyed only 28 days of good air quality. The number has since risen gradually, with 45 days in 2006 and 60 days until Dec. 27 this year. The administration hopes to raise the total to 100 days in 2008.

To encourage people to use public transportation, Damantoro said the administration should urge real estate developers to provide it in housing estates. Residents there often have no alternative to buying a car.

"Housing estates could be a good place to introduce people to public transportation," he said.

Bambang said the administration should apply a two-pronged, "push and pull" strategy.

He explained that the "push" could take the form of limiting vehicles in the city center, setting high parking rates and using a three-in-one policy. The "pull" would be improving public transportation.

Driejana, a lecturer at Bandung Institute of Technology, said the administration should explore other options to clear the air.

She explained that an eco-friendly building that used natural lighting could also reduce air pollution.

A 2006 study showed that the amount of benzene in Jakarta's air was four times higher than acceptable levels, while polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon pollution was 30 times higher.

The city administration says 70 percent of air pollution in Jakarta comes from car emissions, and the rest from industry.

On weekdays, at least 2.5 million private cars and 3.8 million motorcycles traverse the city's roads.

Budirama Natakusumah, head of the city's Environmental Management Board (BPLHD), emphasized that besides holding Car Free Day, the administration planned to start enforcing compulsory vehicle emissions tests in January.

Depok-Manggarai line to run January

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post) : An air-conditioned economy-class electric train line is scheduled to begin carrying passengers between Depok and Manggarai Jan. 3, next year.

The fare, set at Rp 6,500, allows passengers to continue their journey on the inner city "Ciliwung Blue" line, PT Kereta Api Indonesia spokesperson Akhmad Sujadi said Friday, as quoted by detik.com.

The Depok-Manggarai train line meets Ciliwung Blue Line at Manggarai station in South Jakarta. Ciliwung Blue Line travels a circular route serving North, South, East and Central Jakarta.

Akhmad said the new train had a capacity to carry up to 1,500 passengers in 10 air-conditioned carriages at any one time.

Akhmad said the train would stop at Depok, Pondok Cina, Lenteng, Tanjung Barat, Pasar Minggu Baru, Kalibata, Cawang, Tebet and Manggarai.

At this stage, he said, the train would run from Depok twice in the morning, and from Manggarai twice in the afternoon.

"We have not finalized the schedule yet, but the train will run during peak hours," he said.

City preparing for New Year's Eve

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

With millions of people expected to crowd entertainment centers in Jakarta on New Year's Eve, the city administration and the police are preparing to deploy more than 17,000 officers in an effort to step up security and manage traffic in the capital.

The police would intensify security in entertainment parks, shopping malls, train stations, bus stations, the Soekarno-Hatta international airport and other public places, Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Adang Firman said.

To celebrate the New Year, the city administration has organized festivities at three locations: the National Monument in Central Jakarta; Ancol Amusement Park in North Jakarta; and Taman Mini Indonesia Park in East Jakarta.

"This is to prevent heavy traffic congestion in those areas," Governor Fauzi Bowo said.

From the total 681 entertainment hubs holding New Year's Eve parties, the police would prioritize the National Monument and Ancol, according to the Jakarta Police Traffic Management Center.

Central Jakarta Police Chief Sr. Comr. Heru Winarko said the security would be tightened at the National Monument, as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to visit the location.

"We will close the streets around the monument to motorists from 4 p.m., to prevent traffic jams in the area. So after that time people will have to go to the monument by foot," Heru said.

The streets that will be closed to motorists are Jl. Medan Merdeka Timur; Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat; Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara; and Jl. Medan Merdeka Selatan.

About 500 meters from the monument, the police would reroute motorists to park their vehicles at Gambir Train Station, Istiqlal Mosque and other nearby parking lots, he said.

Last year, millions of people flocked the National Monument during the New Year's Eve celebration, causing heavy traffic jams in the area, he said.

Adj. Sr. Comr. Herri Wibowo, deputy chief of the Central Jakarta Police, said the city administration would open a coordinating center to manage crime and loss reports in the National Monument area.

At the National Monument, a free music concert featuring top bands and a fireworks display have been planned to welcome the new year. Traditional attractions and the lighting of 2,008 torches will enliven the celebration at Taman Mini in addition to the fireworks and music shows.

Meanwhile, Ancol park management will offer a coastal experience with music and dance performances, fireworks and traditional attractions as part of the so-called Jakarta Seaside Festival. (dia)

City to embrace another car-free day

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post) :The city administration will hold a Car Free Day this Sunday as part of efforts to curb air pollution in the city.

The head of the city's Environmental Management Board (BPLHD), Budirama Natakusumah, said the city would have another Car-Free Day in the Old Town area in West Jakarta and on Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin in Central Jakarta.

"The program will be concentrated in the two areas," Budirama said Thursday.

The program will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Budirama said the administration had committed to holding the event once a month.

"We will hold Car Free Day on the fourth week every month," he said.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Flood parlyzes Surabaya-Jakarta`s northern railway

Bojonegoro, E Java (ANTARA News) - The northern lane of the railway connecting Surabaya - Jakarta was paralyzed after the railway in the Cengungklung village, in Kalitidu sub district and Tobo village, in Purwosari sub district, Bojonegoro district was inundated by 15 - 20 cm of water from the Bengawan Solo`s overflow.

"The train could not pass by the railway in the two areas since Thursday," an attendant at the Bojonegoro train station, Iskak said on Friday.

The cargo train heading from Surabaya to Jakarta was forced to stop at the Bojonegoro train station at 8 pm on Thursday, he said, adding that the Sembrani Express train heading to Jakarta was trapped by flood in Tobo station and was then drawn to the Cepu station, and the route was then shifted to Madiun, Surabaya, Solo and to Jakarta.

"Starting from last night, there was no more train from Surabaya to Jakarta passing by this north lane. All (trains heading to Jakarta) have shifted to the southern lane, with the route of Surabaya- Madiun - Solo and Jakarta," he added.

Meanwhile the cargo train was still in the Bojonegoro station, he said.

Iskak added there was no decision yet whether the railway could be used.

"We will see the development of the flood," he said,

The ground transportation from Bojonegoro to Cepu in Central Java is also threatened to be paralyzed due to the water inundated the roads.

The Bengawan Solo river`s overflow has inundated some districts both in East and Central Java.

Eco-driving promoted to cut emissions

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government is working to change the behavior of public transportation drivers, a key element in the campaign to reduce carbon emissions.

The transportation sector accounts for 50 percent of the nation's total fuel consumption. Of that, 80 percent is consumed by land transportation.

"In addition to fuel diversification, energy-use efficiency is a second means of reducing national fuel subsidies, which have proven to be very costly for Indonesia," Dollaris Riauaty "Waty" Suhadi, the project manager for Swisscontact's Clean Air Project, said during a campaign drive Thursday.

To increase efficiency in fuel use, Waty added, Swisscontact has introduced eco-driving or fuel-efficiency driving among bus and commercial vehicle operators through a pilot study involving drivers of charter bus firm PT Hiba Utama.

"After training 100 Hiba Utama drivers in eco-driving techniques, our study concluded that the company managed to reduce fuel consumption up to 18 percent, enabling it to save at least US$12,000 per month," she said. Hiba Utama operates more than 2,000 vehicles and employs at least 4,000 drivers.

Swisscontact previously trained 50 truck drivers at publicly-listed cement maker PT Holcim Indonesia in 2006, the year the non-government organization first introduced eco-driving to Indonesia. The concept has also been applied in Switzerland, Britain, the Netherlands, and Germany.

In eco-driving, motorists avoid hard acceleration, excessive braking and other behaviors that lead to higher fuel consumption.

"The way we accelerate and shift gears affects the way fuel is used," said the Transportation Ministry's director general for land transportation, Iskandar Abubakar.

According to Iskandar, since the commercial transportation sector is not only the country's largest fuel consumer, but also one of the sectors most likely to be hit by fuel subsidy cuts, there is a greater need for eco-friendly operation measures within the industry.

Soetanto Soehondo of the City Transportation Board, however, argued that the idea should have been introduced among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and individually-owned commercial operators first, instead of big players like Hiba Utama and PT Bluebird.

"A cursory glance at the city's transportation system will tell you that the main contributors to carbon monoxide emissions are actually buses owned by SMEs and private individuals," Soetanto told The Jakarta Post by phone Thursday evening.

"Well-established companies like Hiba, on the other hand, already have certain operating standards. So naturally they will face fewer challenges in training their drivers, unlike public bus operators, which are pressed to generate as much money as possible within a short period of time," he argued.

According to Waty, Swisscontact is targeting large fleet companies for reasons of efficiency.

"Introducing eco-driving measures to companies with large vehicle fleets will yield more results than approaching SMEs that on average run small numbers of vehicles," she said. (amr)

Flood solutions: Both big and small

Evi Mariani, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The idea that Jakarta will be flooded by 2050 seems to have taken hold in the media. Those who support it are scientists, green activists and politicians. Most of them believe climate change will raise sea levels, and, compounded by the sinking of Jakarta's land, speed the pace of flooding.

Whether or not the city sinks below the sea by 2050, floods have hit the capital annually and they strike with greater severity once every few years. Severe floods have become more frequent. At first the interval was 17 years, from 1979 to 1996; another struck six years later in 2002; another five years later in 2007.

Experts have said the trend will likely continue and the interval will keep shrinking unless the city does something to mitigate floods.

They also say the underlying cause of the floods is Jakarta's damaged environment. First, Jakarta's rivers are severely polluted. They are strangled both by garbage and by the construction of housing on their banks. Second, Jakarta's water catchment areas are dwindling due to unchecked urban development, which has left only 8 percent of the capital green. Third, overexploitation of groundwater and again, urban development, have hastened the sinking of Jakarta's land. The city is dropping at an average of 8 centimeters per year, according to one estimate -- faster than the rising sea level estimated at .57 centimeters.

What has the administration done about floods in the past year?

Governor Fauzi Bowo has included flood mitigation in his 100-day program. Weeks after he was elected governor, the rainy season arrived. And it's business as usual for many people.

Main streets in the capital are still inundated after heavy downpours. The drainage apparently does not work very well. Regularly flooded areas are flooding, just as they have in the past.

Meanwhile, the garbage is still heaped in mountains in Jakarta's rivers; efforts to scoop it out have been ineffective. Apparently, the garbage just keeps coming. A man who helped the city clean the Manggarai sluice gate said to the press that his job was neverending, due to the "super" amount of garbage.

The city administration's efforts so far have involved dredging rivers and evicting riverbank people every year -- a step that requires much energy and money with questionable results. The city has also repeatedly fixed and added pumps to move floodwater from the city to the sea or rivers.

Those measures are necessary, but they are like trying to cover a hole in a deflating tire with tape. The hole just gets bigger and costs more to repair.

Deputy Governor Prijanto said the funding to revitalize rivers was not enough. Prijanto complained that Jakarta had only Rp 270 billion (US$30 million) to mitigate floods, while it needed Rp 1.2 trillion.

As much as Jakarta's rivers need dredging, as many hydrologists and public works experts always say, they will constantly need large expenditures if the city does not come up with more lasting solutions, such as improving waste management.

The administration's long-term solutions so far involve big projects. The most famous one is the construction of the East Flood Canal, which has been halted since the Dutch colonial administration. It is now being hampered by land disputes. Fauzi has stated that he will finish acquiring land for the canal by the end of his 100-day program on Jan. 15.

Other projects are the revitalization of water reservoirs throughout the city and the construction of a large dam upstream on the Ciliwung.

A new proposal came up at the end of former Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso's administration. The city considered building a multi-purpose tunnel aimed at solving water shortages and sanitation problems as well as floods.

Early estimates said the project, which is still undergoing a feasibility study, would cost Rp 4.37 trillion. However, later projections put the price tag at four times that amount. There has been no further news about this plan. Reports have shown that for Jakarta, maintaining big projects is often problematic. Lack of trained human resources and money are often the excuse for equipment rotting away.

All of these projects might help mitigate Jakarta's floods. But they are all big undertakings requiring large amounts of money right from the feasibility study all the way through to maintenance. They would also take a large investment of human resources.

In addition to such big projects, the city should seek more grassroots solutions involving residents and the business sector, especially developers. Reports from across the world have shown that participatory projects are more effective and sustainable. They cost less but they take a longer and more continuous effort, which is why they are less popular with Jakarta administrations.

A campaign aimed at domestic waste management seems increasingly necessary, because households produce more than 50 percent of the city's garbage. Households also contribute a lot to the garbage clogging the rivers.

The city has a 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) campaign. So far, however, only 20 subdistricts out of hundreds have applied the 3R system. The city's promotional efforts have slacked.

Budirama Natakusumah, the head of Environmental Management Board (BPLHD), said his office did not plan to continue or revive the 3R campaign. However, his board has launched another campaign concerning waste and water catchment areas. It revives the idea of absorption wells throughout the city. Households can make biopore holes to help absorb floodwater while revitalizing the groundwater supply.

The biopore idea and efforts to get developers to install absorption wells have not proved very popular, however, perhaps because of the novelty of the idea.

Tackling floods should not be the responsibility of the city administration alone. Millions of residents, as well as the business sector, should help contribute to mitigation. Concerted efforts should be made because floods affect everybody in the city.

Thus, to flood or not to flood is not exactly the question. The city is flooded anyway and everybody should do something.

Mass transportation system still in the work

Mustaqim Adamrah, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Jakartans might agree that crawling along, hour after hour, trapped in traffic is the major urban living issue of the year, with the busway being the subject of the hour.

But the Jakarta administration says it has a remedy for the exasperating traffic situation -- a macro transportation framework.

Since experts in 2004 drew up a comprehensive plan for moving people and goods about the city -- the Transporation Framework -- Jakarta has been expecting something big to happen.

The framework is a grand 10-year plan for an integrated transportation system that, it is hoped, will ameliorate chronic traffic congestion and stave off gridlock -- predicted by 2014.

The framework comprises busways, a water taxi, rail-based transportation, a monorail, and a subway, as well as roads linking them together in an integrated system.

Transportation experts have clearly stated that without a public transportation system none of the world's big cities can go on functioning correctly.

As the cheapest mass transportation method the administration has ever built, the busway has drawn applause but also criticism.

The fact sheet says the number of commuters using the busway has increased since its first year of operation, abreast with the growing number of busway corridors: from 15.94 million in 2004, to 20.8 million in 2005 and 38.83 million in 2006, according to busway operator TransJakarta. TransJakarta 2007 will see 59.44 million riders use the busway seven routes.

On the ugly side, apparently the busway has done little to ease congestion because it hasn't been an attractive choice for most motorists. Fewer-than-needed buses and "huge" operational costs have been blamed for poor service, which in turn holds back popularity.

"A project will become a milestone only if we have both good planning and implementation," says Soetanto Soehodho, a transportation expert at the University of Indonesia's Center for Transportation Studies. "The busway plan is excellent. The entangling problems are in the implementation."

The administration is constructing three new busway lanes that are expected to be finished by Dec. 15. The construction has resulted in even worse congestion. Temporary relief was given to motorists when they were allowed to use certain sections of busway lanes in November. The policy, however, hurts busway users because it takes them longer to reach their destinations.

As Soetano suggests, one problem after another will prevent the success of transportation schemes unless they are well-planned and implemented. It is more important for the administration, he says, to evaluate and optimize the seven existing corridors than to build new ones.

Meanwhile, it seems busway progress has temporarily come to a stop -- even before all the new corridors have been rolled out. "The city budget has been available only since around May this year, while public bidding for such construction takes five to six months of preparation and three to six months for the process itself," says Budi Kuntjoro of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. "Such condition can result in months of delays."

The presence of the busway system is not to blame for traffic delays; the presence and growing number of private vehicles that occupy 90 percent of the road space is, says Budi.

"The efficiency of private vehicles is also low as they carry only half of the total passengers."

Approximately 1.5 million cars were sold last year in Jakarta. During the first three months of this year 1.51 million cars and 3.32 motorcycles were sold.

"The number of vehicles sold every year rises by 10 percent, while the roadway expands by no more than 0.1 percent annually," he says.

Jakarta roadway is now equal to 40 square kilometers and can only accommodate -- at any one time -- only 0.01 percent of the total number of cars, according to City Public Works Agency head Wisnu Subagya Yusuf.

To help reduce traffic by limiting the use of private vehicles, electronic road pricing (ERP) is one answer, Budi says. The institute is still doing feasibility studies for a Rp 1 trillion (US$107.53 million) ERP project and hopes to have it in place by 2011.

One way or another, a working traffic system will require mass transportation, limiting the use of private vehicles and re-mapping the routes used by private motorists, says Soetanto.

However, there is always the risk that traffic jams will simply be displaced rather than eliminated. Creating new roads -- except as part of a comprehensive plan -- would only encourage the use of private vehicles and be a temporary solution says Andi Rahmah of the Indonesian Transportation Society. "Road expansion will never resolve traffic congestion."

Rules regarding ownership and use of private vehicles may be one solution, but the administration will likely choose something "safer".

As one of Indonesia's leading industries, it wouldn't be practical to impinge on auto makers," said Fauzi.

In Soetanto's opinion, limiting the use of private vehicles can be successful if "suitable mass transportation options are already available for car users ready to make the switch".

In another attempt at traffic mitigation, the administration has committed to a multi-trillion Mass Rapid Transit -- or subway -- project by 2014.

The project will unlikely be derailed at this point as the administration has been promised the approximately Rp 8.3 trillion it needs for the project in the form of soft loans by Japan Bank for International Cooperation. The project also enjoys the support of the central government.

"We have the central government on our side. Unlike the monorail project, which is handled by a private company. I guarantee this MRT project will be successful," then-deputy governor Fauzi Bowo said in August when revealing the project road map.

In the first phase, the MRT will be able to transport 400,000 commuters daily from Lebak Bulus, South Jakarta, to Dukuh Atas, Central Jakarta -- 14.3 kilometers -- in only 32 minutes.

The long-delayed monorail project depends on whether there is political will to make it a reality. "It is a matter of how to attract investment, too," says Soetanto.

The administration once had an ambition to see through the $480-million monorail project. But the fate of the project is now hanging on a thread and fail entirely as neither the city nor central government has recently given any clear signs on the project.

Meanwhile, one foreign investor after another has come and left -- after finding the financial scheme offered by monorail developer PT Jakarta Monorail didn't suit them, notwithstanding central government backing. The monorail developer is suspected to be insolvent although director Sukmawaty Syukur denies the accusation.

"The monorail project has stopped because (Jakarta Monorail) doesn't have the money," said then-deputy governor Fauzi. The on-and-off project construction has left a series of idle pillars along Central and South Jakarta's main streets.

Wondering if railway-based transportation is the key to traffic mitigation, the central government and the city launched the double-track railway linking Tanah Abang in Central Jakarta and Serpong in Banten in July. The project cost the central government Rp 320 billion. The Serpong-Tanah Abang route is to be the pilot for the country's first modern railway network.

The administration is also planning to connect Tanjung Priok Port in North Jakarta and Soekarno-Hatta International Airport with a double-track railway.

N. Jakarta flyover ready January

The Jakarta Post

The flyover spanning Jl. Yos Sudarso, North Jakarta, will be fully operational by January and will complement the Cempaka Putih flyover in East Jakarta, which leads straight to Tanjung Priok Pier in North Jakarta, an official said Wednesday.

"All we have to do is clean up leftover debris and other construction materials," North Jakarta's public facilities and administration chief Yuliadi told detik.com.

"It will be usable by early January," he said without providing an exact date.

He said he hoped the flyover, which goes over an often-jammed business and shopping district, Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, will be able to reduce congestion in the area.

"It's actually a little late, it should've been operational since mid December," he said.

Yuliadi said the water drainage system in the area still needed to be fixed.

The junction is often covered in water puddles as high as 50 cm. (anw)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Jakarta shows its tolerant side

Mustaqim Adamrah, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Christmas was celebrated peacefully in Jakarta on Tuesday, with only a bomb hoax to disturb police.

An anonymous bomb threat directed at Plaza Kristal in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta, on Monday evening, saw 20 bomb squad officers sent to secure the area. No explosives were found.

But the rest of the holiday was clear and calm.

On Christmas Eve, Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo paid courtesy calls to several churches in Jakarta and urged interfaith peace.

"Let's build a city for everyone. Set aside all the discriminating manners in ourselves," he told a congregation of 50,000 people at the Cathedral in Central Jakarta.

Christmas has been marked by beefed-up security in the capital since bombs rocked several cities in Indonesia, including Jakarta, on Christmas Eve 2000. Bombs were found in four churches and a Catholic school in the city. The police have never connected the attacks to any specific organization.

This year the city administration and the Jakarta Police have deployed 17,690 officers to churches and public places at 173 different locations from Dec. 22 to 29.

While several churches in the city have been forced to close by neighbors recently, there was not religious tension evident this year.

"I'm glad I got the impression that Christians are celebrating Christmas this year more freely and happily. They don't feel threatened or worried any more," Fauzi said Monday evening.

After the Cathedral, Fauzi continued to Immanuel Church in Central Jakarta, Kristus Yesus Church in West Jakarta, Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP) Church in South Jakarta, Koinonia Church in East Jakarta and ended at Santo Yakobus Church in North Jakarta.

Fauzi said he was happy to learn that Jakartans of all faiths were helping keep the peace.

"I notice that there's quite a number of Islamic organizations that also have helped keep security at a number of churches during Christmas Eve," he said.

"I also thank all the mass organizations and local security apparatus who have helped stay on guard and provide protection to the Christians who are praying."

Suripto, a resident of Gambir in Central Jakarta, said at least 25 residents from his community unit took part in providing security at Immanuel Church.

"We are from three different mosques. We want to show the people that interfaith tolerance does still exist," he said.

"And whoever who claims themselves to be Muslims and wants to cause trouble during Christmas Eve hopefully will be deterred when they see their brothers are part of the security at this church."

Separately, thousands of Protestants organized a massive celebration at Senayan on Dec. 25. They said they believed Jakarta was safe for such an event.

"Religious intolerance and extremism is a illness of the few, it doesn't scare me and it's not going to stop me from praying at Christmas," said Niko Suhada, a member of Indonesia's Bethel Church (GBI).

Niko was one of thousands of Christians who flocked to Gelora Bung Karno, Senayan, Central Jakarta, for the massive Christmas celebration held by GBI.

Some 60,000 Christmas worshippers were expected to attend the event, which started at 10 a.m. and would end at around 11 p.m. (anw)

Flood triggers traffic jam in Surakarta, Central Java

Jakarta Post

JAKARTA (Antara): The rain-swollen Bengawan Solo Riveroverspilled its banks in Surakarta, Central Java on Wednesday, triggering a traffic jam.

The flood inundated the Solo-Wonogiri road as high as 50 centimeters, forcing motorists to slow down or change their routes.

It has also submerged hundreds of houses in Joyontakan sub-district in Surakarta.

A disastrous year for national transportation

Alvin Darlanika Soedarjo, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The first day of 2007 was marked by a jetliner going missing, in what some later saw as a sign of things to come: It was the first in what was to be a long line of accidents.

The disappearance of the Boeing 737-400 aircraft operated by Adam Air tragically left 102 victims listed as "missing" for weeks, before the government confirmed that they had died after crashing into the Majene Sea off West Sulawesi.

Another deadly accident took place on March 7 when a Boeing 737-400 operated by flag carrier Garuda Indonesia failed to make a proper landing in Yogyakarta. The pilot ignored 15 alerts and the pleas of his co-pilot that he was coming in too fast.

On the ground, several survivors lamented that rescuers had difficulty reaching the victims during the emergency.

Both accidents made media headlines and caused an uproar abroad, especially in Australia, five of whose citizens were among the 21 killed in the Garuda crash.

All eyes turned to the Transportation Ministry. Many charged the ministry had been slow to enact crucial safety procedures.

In the midst of the controversy, then-transportation minister Hatta Radjasa was replaced by Jusman Syafii Djamal, former president director of the ailing state aircraft manufacturer PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PT DI).

Hatta, with the help of his party, moved up the political ladder to become State Secretary.

Under Jusman, the ministry has made several moves in an apparent effort to gain control over the situation.

Over the years, air traffic in Indonesia has increased thanks to the liberalization of the air transportation sector. This has resulted in a burgeoning number of low-cost carriers.

The rise in competition has ultimately lowered safety standards, as airlines face pressure to cut operational costs to gain market share and eke out a profit.

The transportation ministry at one point ordered all airlines not to use airplanes more than 20 years old so as to reduce risks.

Many observers, however, believe the problem is related to airplane maintenance, not age.

After hastily conducting a safety audit, the ministry announced on March 22 that not one of Indonesia's 54 registered airlines was fully compliant with safety regulations.

Not even Garuda made it into the top safety category, falling instead into category II, signifying that it was partly compliant with standards.

Thirteen other passenger airlines were placed in category II and seven rated as category III, or non-compliant with safety regulations.

Of the 34 commuter, charter and cargo airlines, 20 made it into category II while the rest fell into category III.

The rating announcement was greeted with an uproar from both the public and the airlines. Most of the airlines, however, took actions to improve safety. Some even hired foreign consultants.

These improvements were noted when the transportation ministry announced the results of its second audit on June 25.

While only Garuda made it into category I, there were 19 passenger airlines in category II. One company, Jatayu, had its airline operator certificate revoked.

Among the commuter, cargo and charter airlines, 23 made it into category II, 11 were put in category III and three airlines had their certificates revoked.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono also called for improvements, establishing an ad hoc team of experts in January called the National Team for the Evaluation of Transportation Safety and Security (EKKT). They were tasked with investigating high-profile transportation mishaps.

The team, led by former Air Force chief of staff Air Marshal (ret) Chappy Hakim, found that many safety procedures had been neglected.

Among other moves, EKKT recommended that the air transport industry and government put "the right people in the right place", renovate airports, enforce sanctions, and make the National Transport Safety Committee (KNKT) into a more independent body reporting directly to the President.

EKKT pointed out that other transportation industries were also neglecting safety.

"There is no agreed-on perception of safety standards among users," EKKT spokesman Oetarjo Diran said.

Poor safety records came back to haunt the industry on July 6 when the European Union imposed a blanket ban on Indonesian airlines, prohibiting them from entering the airspace of the 27-country bloc.

At the time, none of the airlines were serving European routes, although Garuda was planning to resume flights to Amsterdam.

The ban came as a nasty shock to the government, and a somewhat unusual one, since it prohibited not only passenger airlines but cargo, charter and commuter flights.

The EU appeared to be seeking reassurance that there was no collusion between operators and regulators, especially in issuing airworthiness certificates.

Several carriers have allegedly been cutting corners on maintenance, for instance by patching worn airplane tires instead of replacing them and by using inferior spare parts.

Under the ban, European travel agents are issuing warnings about Indonesian flights. Several discussions in Brussels have failed to budge the EU from its position. There has been, however, no report of a significant drop in European travelers to Indonesia.

Saudi Arabia planned to impose a similar ban. However, Jakarta managed to persuade the country to send its auditors to directly check Indonesian airlines.

Currently only Garuda flies to the kingdom.

The Saudi government finally relented on Aug. 2. That was an important decision for Garuda, which flies roughly half of Indonesia's 200,000 haj pilgrims there annually. The other half are carried by Saudi Arabian Airlines.

On Oct. 1, the transportation ministry announced three more airlines to have reached category I in addition to Garuda: Mandala Airlines and charter airlines Air Fast and Premier Airlines.

Another blow to the Indonesian air transport sector came late this year, when fire ravaged the domestic arrival terminal of the Polonia International Airport in Medan, North Sumatra on Dec. 1.

It was the second fire there in two years.

Despite its international status, the airport lacked prevention and fire equipment which would have enabled the blaze to be detected and extinguished much earlier.

Indonesia's water-borne transportation sector has also been plagued by tragedies.

The Senopati Nusantara ferry sank on the Java sea near Jepara, Central Java on December 30, 2006. More than 300 passengers died. Less than two months later the Levina ferry caught fire near Jakarta's Tanjung Priok seaport. The Feb. 22 disaster also claimed more than 300 lives. The Levina's death toll rose three days later when the burned-out hulk sank suddenly, killing two TV cameramen and two investigators researching the blaze.

The Levina crew was found to have neglected safety procedures during the voyage. Defective lifeboats are believed to have added significantly to the fatalities.

The lack of order within the ferry business even spills over onto land. The Merak-Bakauheni ferry ports in Banten and Lampung sometimes experience chaotic traffic congestion, especially during bad weather when the waves are high and the vessels cannot dock properly.

Although the situation is not particularly dangerous, a lack of sufficient facilities has created a bottleneck of trucks and passengers on the road.

Due to the surge in travelers around Idul Fitri, no trucks carrying non-basic goods may use the ferries for inter-island transport then.

Discipline is part of the problem. Many ferries do not depart on time and many trucks carry excessive loads.

The railway system operated by state-owned PT Kereta Api, which dates back to the Dutch colonial era, also suffered from numerous mishaps.

A Jan. 15 accident involving the Bengawan train on the Purwokerto-Banyumas border claimed five lives. Three people died on March 26 when the Mutiara Timur train hit a passing car in Margorejo, Surabaya.

Most of the country's rail disasters are collisions or derailments caused by employee negligence, aging railway lines and trains, and carelessness on the part of people crossing railway tracks.

Jusman has pledged to prioritize the safety and renovation of rail transport.

A new rail law opens the way for private companies to become train operators. It gives PT Kereta Api a grace period of two years to prepare itself for competition.

However, some observers doubt investors will be interested.

In 2008, the Transportation Ministry needs to apply and enforce the recommendations of the ad-hoc transportation team in order to lower the number of accidents. Even if the number of carriers and passengers increases, it does not mean that accident rates should rise.

The public has to be reassured that flying with local carriers or using other forms of local transportation is safe. Accidents will happen, but they should not be caused by ignorance or indifference.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Trucks, buses ready to ferry air passengers

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post) : State-owned toll operator PT Jasa Marga has prepared three buses and three trucks in anticipation of flooding on turnpikes leading to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

With higher ground clearance, the vehicles are better suited for traveling in flood conditions than cars or motorbikes. They have been stationed at Kapuk toll gates and could be used to take passengers to the airport if the turnpikes become inundated.

"Jasa Marga readied the buses and trucks last Saturday, in case there were floods," Jasa Marga representative Jajat Sudradjat said, as quoted by Detik news portal.

The company also prepared 10 water pumps to remove water from the road.

High tides hit Jakarta's north coast earlier this month and interrupted road access to the airport, causing many passengers to miss their flights.

Discounted bus fares during holiday season

The Jakarta Post

Even with the holiday season just around the corner, business was slow at Kalideres bus station in West Jakarta on Friday, with several intercity bus companies ready to reduce fares.

"Next week we will reduce bus fares to attract more passengers," said Eko, a ticket seller for Handoyo bus company.

A ticket for an air-conditioned bus to Surakarta (Solo), Central Java, for example, will be sold for Rp 70,000 (US$8), Rp 5,000 cheaper than the current price.

Passengers can buy tickets at the terminal or any of its five ticket counters in Jakarta and Bekasi.

Eko said he could usually sell 10 tickets for a bus with 54 seats.

"But this year's holiday season is really sluggish, with only one person buying a ticket for the bus that left for Solo this morning," he said.

Eko predicted other bus companies, especially smaller ones like Handoyo, would reduce fares too.

This month people enjoy a long holiday that began last Thursday when Muslims celebrated the Day of Sacrifice, or Idul Adha.

Waryono, a ticket seller for Sinar Jaya bus company, also said business was slow.

"Last year, ahead of the Day of Sacrifice we could send off buses filled to their capacity of 59 passengers," he said.

This holiday season, he said, the number of people using buses might only reach half of last year's total.

"I think people are reluctant to go home because they don't have enough money to buy tickets," he said.

The decreased number of passengers at the inter-city terminal was evident in the daily records at the terminal's office.

Some 2,897 buses left the terminal Tuesday. The number increased to 3,904 on Wednesday but it decreased to 3,543 a day later.

"Many people prefer to take trains or maybe airplanes as there are airlines offering cheap prices," said Suryatna of the West Jakarta transportation office. (JP/ewd)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Airport plants trees

Multa Fidrus, The Jakarta Post, Tangerang

Soekarno-Hatta International Airport operator PT Angkasa Pura II started planting trees Saturday as part of a nationwide re-greening campaign.

In cooperation with the alumni association of the University of Indonesia, the company has plans to re-landscape 25 hectares at the airport and call it "Angkasa Pura II Forest".

"We've set a goal of planting 10 million trees ... to help (mitigate) climate change," said the company's president director Edi Haryoto.

He said the program was the brainchild of Sofyan Djalil, state minister for small and medium enterprises (center, planting a tree), who is also chairman of the alumni association.

The program began with some 36,000 saplings representing nearly one thousand different tree species.

While lawns and groves are often associated with exclusive clubs and housing estates, Sofyan spoke enthusiastically about a program that was for everyone. "There will be more than 500 million trees growing in the country in the next few years if we all start by planting at least one tree now.

"This initiative can help us combat global warming and reduce its impact."

Meanwhile, Edi said the green zones at the airport could serve the same function as a public park and would be suitable for jogging and bicycling.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Let's manage garbage to combat flooding

Enri Damanhuri, Bandung, The Jakarta Post

A major flood threatens Jakarta. At least that is what was implied by the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMG), which predicted that a high tide of up to 2.2 meters will affect northern Jakarta within the next few weeks, with the worst affected areas expected to be Penjaringan and Pluit. High levels of precipitation could also cause floods of up to half a meter deep in Cawang, Cakung, Jatinegara, Pancoran and Rawa Jati (Kompas, Dec. 5).

This is concerning, at least for us Jakartans and other residents of coastal areas. One problem that has not yet been solved is how to manage our garbage to avoid flooding. Now we have to add high tides to the list of threats.

The easiest answer to the question as to what causes the floods nowadays is the dramatic impact of global warming affecting all parts of the world. The floods are caused by bad weather and storms, and the melting ice is affecting the flow of water, leading to deluges.

However, we may have forgotten another reason that needs to be addressed: the intensive coastal reclamation work in North Jakarta was one of the cause of the floods from Ancol to Kapuk Naga at the end of November.

We may wonder about the floods in the U.S. or UK due to Hurricane Katrina or the heavy rains that caused the big rivers of Europe to overflow. Countries that are well-developed in terms of surface water management, through well-prepared drainage systems, pumps and control dams, in addition to proper waste management, where it is rare to find garbage plugging up the system, still have to deal with the problem.

Surely the rising waters will wreak havoc in developing countries, that are still only introducing such technology, as in Indonesia.

Floods do not just transport water. They contain bacteria, germs and domestic waste. It's no secret that the floodwaters also contain dangerous substances, such as hazardous chemical waste.

We face many problems in handling floods in Jakarta: from preventing the floods and reducing their impacts, to appraising and repairing the damage after the floods so as to prevent them from happening again.

There needs to be legal consequences for those who cause losses and causalities, whether intentionally or otherwise. The Environmental Management Law (No. 23/1997), which makes pollution a criminal offense, needs to be used as a point of reference by the authorities so as to discourage those who do not respect the environment and contribute to its destruction by either purposely mismanaging or carelessly managing waste.

When faced with flooding, people are normally most concerned about saving themselves and their material and productive assets. But what about the dangerous waste that can pollute the water and leech into the ground? This is especially worrying given the number of both large and small industries located in north Jakarta.

There needs to be strict law enforcement by the environmental authorities and related institutions to control how industrial waste is managed so as to avoid people falling sick or dying because they come into contact with dangerous chemicals during the floods.

The stakeholders, all of us, need to take a stand to reduce the impact of improper waste management, and the international forum on climate change in Bali is the perfect opportunity for Indonesia to take action and think about how improper waste management, domestic and industrial, has contributed to polluting our environment.

In order to affect a change in mentality and behavior among the Indonesian people, routine and ongoing socialization of good environmental practices and strict law enforcement of environmental regulations are necessary. The government, as one of the main stakeholders, needs to fulfill its role as the main agent of change by widely distributing information to the public and corporations about the importance of proper waste management, especially for industry-generated hazardous waste.

Let us not forget that waste management, especially urban waste that consists mainly of organic carbon substances, is a significant contributor to greenhouse emissions, especially since waste management systems in Indonesian landfills (TPAs) create methane gases that are improperly managed.

It is commonly known that the greenhouse effect of methane gas is 21 times worse than that of CO2. Of course, this does not mean that we have to blindly apply the values or emission factors provided by experts from developed countries. It requires systematic mapping to explain how proper waste management can serve as one of the important contributors to the effort to reduce greenhouse emissions in Indonesia.

From a management aspect, a program to reduce greenhouse emissions needs to start with the basics; the implementation of the 3-Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). This program can be socialized among garbage and industrial waste generators through discussion panels to formulate rules of conduct involving all relevant parties.

At least there will be a symbiosis of mutualism; both horizontally and vertically. More importantly, municipalities and industry players need to start managing their waste properly. When they realize that the hazardous waste generated by companies in their areas requires professional handling, according to the environmental rules and regulations, they will come to realize that they need to delegate this task to professional companies that specialize in industrial waste management.

As waste management is their core business, they will have the facilities and capabilities needed to ensure that the waste will be properly managed and will not damage the environment. To quote the old saying, "We should leave it to the experts." It's still not too late for this.

The writer is a professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB). He can be reached at e_damanhuri@ftsl.itb.c.id

Traffic regulations relaxed temporarily

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Jakartans will be able to travel freely on several of the city's main streets from Dec. 20-25, with police deciding not to apply three-in-one traffic regulations during this time.

The decision was made due to the fact most offices would be closed, with many workers in the city on collective leave. As such, traffic congestion is expected to be minimal between these dates, First. Brig. Andi from the Traffic Management Center said Friday.

The temporary changes will be effective on Jl. Sudirman, Jl. MH Thamrin and Jl. Gatot Subroto.

However, while Jakartans will be able to enjoy fewer traffic jams during the holiday, they will still have to deal with faulty traffic lights.

Andi said areas with faulty traffic lights included the Senayan Roundabout, Jl. Petukangan, Jl. Petogongan, Jl. Radio Dalam and Jl. Pakubuwono in South Jakarta.

In Central Jakarta, damaged traffic lights are located on Jl. Veteran III and in Kramat Bunder and the Simpang Lima Senen area.

Faulty traffic lights are also located at the Kamal exit toll gate in West Jakarta and in Kemayoran, Ancol Baru and Bintang Mas in North Jakarta.

"We have already reported the damage to the transportation agency, but we are still waiting for their response," Andi said. (dia)

Pluit squatters to be evicted

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post): In an effort to prevent floods in Jakarta, the city administration plans to evict thousands of squatters from around the Pluit Dam next year.

"We will clear illegal housing from around the dam next year as the squatters are occupying one of Jakarta's water catchment areas," Economy Bureau development assistant Nurfakih Wirawan said Monday.

The Pluit Dam has shrunk in size significantly in recent years.

"We hope the squatters understand that the evictions are for their own good," Nurfakih said, without mentioning plans for their future resettlement.

It is estimated between 7,000 and 8,000 families live in the area.

Live WW II rocket found in Indonesian river: police

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian police said they had recovered a 200-kilogram live rocket (440-pound), apparently a World War II-era relic, from a river on Friday after curious locals reported the finding.

"From the looks of it, the rocket has been buried in the stream for a long time, but it is still live and quite dangerous," mobile brigade (Brimob) policeman Asep Hendar, from Surakarta district in Central Java, told AFP.

A Brimob bomb squad retrieved the rocket, but rust obscured any inscription on the 1.5-metre (yard) long missile, which appeared to be a World War II remnant, he said.

Both Japanese and Allied forces fought in locations across Java during the era.

Hendar said the rocket was to be transferred to Brimob's provincial headquarters in Semarang -- about 80 kilometres (50 miles) away -- where it would be defused.

Two villagers spotted the rocket on Thursday nestled in bushes growing in a stream while fishing, the state-run Antara news agency said.

"We tried to lift it first, but it was too heavy. So we reported it to the police," one of the villagers reportedly said.

Wing Air fails to land at Adisucipto airport

Yogyakarta (ANTARA News) - A Wing Air MD82 plane failed to land at Adisutjipto Airport in Yogyakarta and diverted its flight to Juanda Airport in Surabaya at 02.10 p.m. on Friday because of heavy rain and strong winds.

"Despite heavy rain, the pilot did not have a problem with visibility. But when the Air Wing plane was going to land winds from easterly direction were so strong that captain pilot Yudo decided to divert the flight to Surabaya," Hanad Prayitno, assistant to the service manager of PT Angkasa Pura I which operates Adisutjipto Airport said.

He said wide-bodied planes such as Boeing and Airbus did not have a problem in landing under the circumstances. But because the Wing Air plane was an MD82 it was too risky to land.

The Wing Air plane was originally scheduled to land at Adisutjipto Airport at 05.30 p.m., he said.

Friday, December 21, 2007

China Unveils First Locally Developed Regional Jet

javno.com

˝The ARJ21 makes us part of the global aviation industry,˝ Lin Zuoming said.

China unveiled its first domestically developed regional aircraft on Friday, moving a step closer to its goal of becoming an aviation giant and challenging the dominance of Boeing and Airbus.

The white 90-seat ARJ21-700 jet with three curved blue stripes on the fuselage, named "Xiang Feng" or "Flying Phoenix", was displayed to a crowd of government dignitaries and industry officials at the assembly plant in Shanghai where it will be produced.

"We are witnessing this unforgettable moment with extreme excitement," Lin Zuoming, general manager of state-owned manufacturer AVIC I, said in a ceremony broadcast live on state television.

"The ARJ21 makes us part of the global aviation industry," Lin said, but added: "It still faces a new journey to become successful financially."

The event was off-limits to most international and local media, except those directly controlled by the government.

AVIC I also announced 100 new orders for the Flying Phoenix from Kunpeng Airlines, a venture between China's Shenzhen Airlines Ltd and U.S.-based Mesa Air Group.

That increased total orders for the jet -- due for its first test flight next spring and delivery from the third quarter of 2009 -- to more than 170, almost entirely from domestic carriers.

Kunpeng Airlines, which started domestic air service in October, currently has three 50-seat Bombardier CRJ-200 jets.

LONG-TERM BET

AVIC I, which also makes fighter planes and bombers, launched the ARJ21 project in 2000, banking on growth in China's aviation market, which will need about 2,650 new passenger jets in the next 20 years according to the latest forecast by Airbus, a unit of European aerospace group EADS.

While the regional aircraft was developed with Chinese technology, some key parts were sourced from foreign partners, including engines from General Electric.

The company expects its Flying Phoenix to compete with aircraft from Brazil's Embraer and Canada's Bombardier.

Aviation executives have said the regional jet's success could mark an initial step toward implementing a multibillion dollar project to develop large aircraft and wean China's airlines from their reliance on Boeing and Airbus.

Industry sources told Reuters earlier in the year that China's two state aircraft makers, AVIC I and AVIC II, as well as the Commission of Science Technology and Industry for National Defence, would be involved in developing large jets.

AVIC I and AVIC II supply components for Airbus' and Boeing's latest models, including the double-decker A380 jumbo jet and the 787 Dreamliner. AVIC II unit Hafei Aviation Industry Co also makes the ERJ-145 regional craft in partnership with Brazil's Embraer.

But some analysts have expressed scepticism about the commercial prospects of a large jet designed and manufactured entirely in China, given the country's limited experience in big aircraft.

"This is a long-term bet," said a Beijing-based industry analyst. "China could compete head-to-head with Airbus and Boeing some day, but it would take at least 20 years."