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. …

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Jambi-Kerinci road cut by landslide

JAMBI, Jambi (The Jakarta Post) : A major highway in Jambi city was again hit by landslides, this time cutting the road at Muaroamat village, Batangmerangin district in Kerinci regency.

There are at least 50 landslide-prone areas along the Jambi-Kerinci route.

The road was covered with earth as high as one meter, with fallen trees obstructing traffic.

Around 100 vehicles coming from both directions were stranded by the landslide.

Many bus passengers were forced to walk for six hours to continue their journey with other buses from Batangmerangin to Sungaipenuh.

Flashflood stops traffic

The Jakarta Post: Heavy rainfall since Sunday has damaged the Air Pangi Bridge, stopping land traffic along the Central Sumatra Highway between Lahat and Tebing Tinggi.

In Ogan Komering Ulu Timur regency, floods have also engulfed around 1,200 hectares of rice fields and dozens of residents' houses in six districts.

A local resident said Tuesday the bridge probably collapsed due to rapid river currents carrying logs. "The river currents were very swift, and three meters higher than normal conditions," said Umar, 40.

Police had to close some traffic between Lahat and Tebing due to the broken bridge. "Motorcycles, small public vans and private cars are still allowed to pass," Lahat Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Eko Indra said.

Police rerouted traffic heading toward Lubuk Linggau via the Talang Padang Regency road, while vehicles heading toward Bengkulu and Medan were diverted to the Eastern Sumatra Highway.

MAS out to lure RI tourists to Malaysia

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) will offer special airfares and holiday packages during a travel fair from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6.

"We will offer airfare discounts of up to 60 percent during the fair," the airline's area manager, Dzulkefli Zakaria, told reporters here Monday.

The company will also continue to offer discounted airfares after the fair in line with the government of Malaysia's "Visit Malaysia" promotion this year.

Dzulkefli said an economy class one-way ticket from Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur for travel between Feb. 24 and Sept. 30, for example, would be reduced from US$145 to $59.

Besides Indonesia and Malaysia, the Malaysia Airlines Travel Fair (MATF) will also be held in five other ASEAN countries -- Brunei Darussalam, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Dzulkefli said that the airlines would also offer special holiday packages in cooperation with the Malaysia Tourism Board in connection with various events in Malaysia, including a flower festival from Jan. 20 to Feb. 4, Formula One auto race from April 6 to April 8 and the Kuala Lumpur "grand-prix sale" from March 24 to April 22.

"Customers can buy tickets from our offices, travel agents or simply purchase them from our website, www.malaysiaairlines.com," he said.

He said the Malaysian national airline had expanded its ticketing network from 260 to more than 600 travel agents all over Indonesia as of Jan. 15, 2007.

According to Dzulkefli, in 2006 the airline flew 127,000 passengers from Indonesia to Malaysia. This year he expected the number of passengers to increase by 10 percent.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Train derailed, thousands halted their trips

JAKARTA (JP): A train heading to Solo in Central Java from Jakarta derailed in Cirebon, West Java Sunday night, halting the trips of dozens of other trains from Jakarta to cities in Central and East Java provinces.

The incident, however, did not cause any casualty.

Bengawan train departed from Jakarta Sunday evening and scheduled to arrive in Solo early Monday, according to spokesman of Surabaya's state owned railway operator PT KAI Suharsono.

But the train went out from the track when it entered Bangau Dua small station, Cirebon, West Java.

Suharsono said many train cars behind Bengawan were halted.

"Argo Anggrek Train from Jakarta is estimated to arrive in Surabaya at 4 p.m.," Suharsono was quoted by Elshinta Radio as saying referring to an executive class train, whose original schedule of arrival in Surabaya around 6 a.m.

He, however, said many of passengers have continued their trips with buses prepared by PT KAI.

Last week, a train derailed in Brebes, Central Jakarta, killing at least five passengers, wounding dozens of other passengers.Those incidents are blamed on the poor condition of the tracks.

Busway creates new problem

JAKARTA (JP): New busway corridors in Jakarta seem to lack buses which force many passengers to wait for more than 15 minutes to get a busway while others cancel their trip with the busway and decide to take motorcycle taxi "ojek".

As monitored by the Jakarta Post in Pasar Festival, Kuningan, South Jakarta busway stop, several passengers grumbled as they did not expect that they had to wait the busway for more than 10 minutes.

"I have never experienced to wait a busway like this before," said a woman passenger."In Blok M-Kota route the busway arrival is faster."

As traffic jam was so terrible in the Menteng-Kuningan cross road along with the busway route, it took almost one hour for her to go from Pasar Festival to Dukuh Atas, Sudirman with the busway.

By an ojek, a person only needs 15 minutes to travel in the same distance.

Because of the traffic jam and the slow arrival of the busway, some passengers finally decided to cancel their trip with busway and take ojek to go to their destination.

Jakarta Transportation Agency Nurahman reportedly said the new busway corridors would only begin serve passengers at their normal pace in April.

At present, the new corridors indeed lack buses to serve passengers, he said.

U.S. pledges to help R.I in retrieving black box

JAKARTA (JP): U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia B. Lynn Pascoe said Tuesday that they are ready to help Indonesia retrieve the black boxes from the crashing Adam Air aircraft.

"We only assist if they ask to. We are looking forward to help," Pascoe said after a meeting with Transportation Minister Hatta Rajasa at the Ministry's building.

He said that under the International Law, recovering the black boxes had become the call of the Indonesian government and not the U.S.

"Retrieving the black boxes is not an easy feat as it could cost a couple of millions (of dollars)," Pascoe added.

USNS Mary Sears has caught the signals from the black boxes of the jetliner, which carried 102 people, using its advanced Towed Pinger Locator.

The radar detected that the flight data recorder (FDR) was located 1,800 meters while cockpit voice recorder (CVR)was located 2,000 below.

Hatta Rajasa said that the Indonesian government was at the second phase of the mission, which is to recover the flight data recorders.

"We are waiting for the input from the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) on what kind of technology needed to salvage the boxes," Hatta told reporters.

"On Wednesday, KNKT will meet with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to discuss about the project," he said, adding that the U.S. possessed the devices to salvage the black boxes but their availability was still questioned.

"The deep location will not make the black boxes move. Even if they move, they will not move far." (Alvin)

Monday, January 29, 2007

N. Sumatra mulls emergency copters

Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Medan

Officials warn that North Sumatra is unable to respond to natural disasters in remote areas because it lacks the necessary transportation.

The issue was raised during a meeting in Medan between the National Coordination Agency and the North Sumatra Natural Disaster Coordination Unit, led by Governor Rudolf Pardede.

North Sumatra is considering the purchase of helicopters, which would be able to speed up the distribution of relief aid to remote areas.

Regents and mayors in the province whose areas have been affected by disasters have voiced support for the proposal.

Mandailing Natal Regent Amru Daulay said he had first-hand experience with the difficulty of getting aid to people in isolated areas.

Following an earthquake and landslide in Muara Sipongi district in December last year, he said relief workers had to walk for hours, or sometimes even days, to reach some areas. As a result, many survivors fell ill and had to deal with food shortages because of the belated arrival of assistance.

The Langkat regency administration has also had trouble responding to natural disasters.

During flooding in December last year, Langkat Regent Syamsul Arifin said rescue teams were unable to reach some survivors because roads were cut off. As a result, many people were left stranded on the roofs of their houses for days.

Governor Rudolf said the province needed helicopters to improve its disaster response efforts. He said the administration would begin exploring options for purchasing helicopters.

"There are procedures we have to go through to procure the helicopters, but it is vital," Rudolf said.

Indonesian Military general affairs assistant, Commodore Agung Budi Rahardjo, who also attended the meeting, said his office backed the idea of procuring helicopters.

The director general of social affairs at the North Sumatra Social Welfare Office, Ghazali Simatupang, said administrations were authorized to purchase airplanes and helicopters for the purpose of disaster relief.

"North Sumatra is one of 21 provinces in Indonesia which is prone to natural disasters. Every region should prepare the necessary modes of transportation for reaching isolated disaster areas rapidly. No matter how much aid arrives, it is useless if there is no way to transport it," said Ghazali.

Meanwhile, in response to the central government's pledge to assist flood and landslide survivors in Mandailing Natal and Langkat regencies, Ghazali said reconstruction and rehabilitation work would begin immediately in the two areas.

He said his office planned to relocate all of the landslide survivors in Mandailing Natal because they lived in a disaster-prone area. He added the government would rebuild the homes of flood survivors in Langkat.

"We are ready to disburse the funds in February," said Ghazali.

ASEAN ministers eager to lure cruise liners to the region

Jan 29, 2007, 2:00 GMT, Monster & Critics

Singapore - South-East Asian tourism ministers are focusing this week on a joint strategy to woo more cruise liners by promoting the region as the next Caribbean, participants said Monday.

Stepped up efforts to attract more youth travelers are also on the agenda of the ASEAN Tourism Forum, being held through Saturday in Singapore.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) needs a 'concerted effort' to become a compelling cruise destination, Singapore's Minister of State for Trade and Industry S Iswaran told The Straits Times.

With only a handful of attractive cruise ports, Asia has yet to catch up with such popular cruise hubs as the Caribbean and Mediterranean, he said.

Air links are also being discussed. Iswaran noted how an 'open aviation regime will pave the way for more flights and competitive airfares.' This, in turn, will give ASEAN member states the extra boost to emerge into booming tourism markets.

ASEAN is also bringing forward a plan to permit unlimited flights between the capital cities of member countries by next year.

Singapore, Thailand and Brunei already have the freedom to fly to each other's cities. Taking Singapore and Thailand as an example, Iswaran said that passenger traffic from the city-state to Bangkok has risen by more than 40 per cent since 2000.

Singapore has also sent 60 per cent more passengers to Phuket in the same period.

It will be to ASEAN's 'collective benefit' to have each country as an attractive destination in its own right, Iswaran said.

The 10-member grouping will have to work closer to 'communicate effectively to the external world so travelers are reassured and can make informed decisions,' he said.

ASEAN includes Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Indonesia to enforce airplane passengers regulation for safe flying

Source: Xinhua

The Indonesian government will begin enforcing a nearly 20-year-old regulation requiring airplane passengers to show an ID during check-in at airline counters.

"Airlines must implement the policy, stipulated in a 1989 Transportation Ministry decree, by March 31 or face sanctions," Air Transportation Director General M. Ikhsan Tatang said Saturday during a discussion at the ministry.

"The decree is aimed at avoiding deviations between the manifest and the actual passengers aboard an airplane," the Jakarta Post daily Sunday quoted Ikhsan as saying.

Ikhsan said the regulation was meant to improve security and facilitate the insurance claims process in the event of an accident, by ensuring the names printed on tickets matched those on ID cards.

He said a public awareness campaign was needed to ensure public participation in showing IDs at check-in counters, as regulators did not have authority over passengers.

However, the ministry can punish airlines that fail to ensure compliance with the regulation, including imposing various sanctions, from issuing warnings to revoking operational licenses, " said Ikhsan.

Some passengers in Indonesia have refused to cooperate with the regulation, and there is an impression some people feel it insulting to have to produce an ID card at the check-in counter.

"Many state officials have refused to show their IDs as they think they deserve special treatment," the secretary-general of the National Air Carriers Association, Tengku Burhanuddin, said.

"Officials should set a good example for the public," he added.

New busway routes launched

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Even though they are a little short on buses, four new busway corridors were officially opened by Governor Sutiyoso on Saturday.

Promising a full fleet of 216 vehicles to serve the new lines, the governor pleaded with Jakartans to be patient during the initial phase of operation.

The corridors are beginning with just eight buses each. They run from Ragunan to Kuningan, Kampung Rambutan to Kampung Melayu, Pulogadung to Dukuh Atas, and Kampung Melayu to Ancol.

During a pre-launch ceremony Friday, the head of the Jakarta Transportation Agency, Nurachman, had said each line would have 10 buses in the initial phase.

The governor said the administration had to go through a long process to import the buses. He hopes to have all of the vehicles in place by the end of February.

The ceremony at Ancol recreational park in North Jakarta featured a test run from Ancol to Cililitan, East Jakarta. The inaugural ride snarled traffic until the afternoon in several areas along the route.

The administration has high hopes for the new corridors, and is setting a target of 5,000 to 10,000 passengers for the four corridors per day.

In his speech, Sutiyoso said the busway was only a starting point for Jakarta's transportation plans.

The administration has already floated an ambitious goal of 15 busway corridors, two monorail lines, a subway and water transportation.

The city administration has long been criticized for failing to provide public transportation, resulting in the uncontrolled growth of private vehicle ownership and the city's notoriously wretched traffic.

"There is no city in the world that can keep building roads to keep up with the increasing number of vehicles," Sutiyoso said.

Instead, he added, the only way to offset the growth in private vehicles was to provide better public transportation.

"This is why I won't retreat, though there are many opponents to this policy. I want to show that these buses are the best answer to our traffic problems," he said.

Sutiyoso said three more corridors would be built this year. Public transportation vehicles which overlap with the busway routes will be grouped in a consortium.

Nyoman Iswarayoga, a passenger who attended the launch, hoped that the administration could quickly obtain the buses as well as an electronic ticketing system for the new corridors.

"I'm sure people will complain about long waits because the buses are limited," he told The Jakarta Post.

Until the bidding and installation process for an electronic ticketing system is completed, the new lines will use paper tickets.

The three existing lines -- Blok M-Kota, Pulogadung-Harmoni, and Kalideres-Harmoni -- all use electronic ticketing.

A study by the U.S.-based Institute for Transportation and Development Policy found that as many as 14 percent people of Jakarta's busway riders were previously private car users.

"Bogota (Colombia) had only five percent shift to their busway service. This is a good result," said Sutiyoso.

Breathing dirty air

The Jakarta Post: Living in Jakarta doesn't just take a lot out of your wallet, it takes a great deal out of your health, too.

The latest report to be released by the Jakarta Environmental Management Agency says that last year there were only 41 good air quality days. That means that almost every day last year, Jakarta's residents breathed pollution.

According to the report, January was the cleanest month of the year, as roughly half of the good air days occured during its course.

These findings are terrible, but the report has failed to provoke a reaction from the public or the city's managers.

Both the people who run the city, including those in charge of monitoring and controlling air pollution, and the residents seem ignorant of the problem. They must be aware of the fact that there is almost nowhere in this teeming city to breathe clean air. But real action to minimize air pollution has been very poor, both from government officials and residents.

Jakarta now operates five air pollution monitoring stations, which measure dust particles, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide. Unfortunately, this year the stations only recorded dust and ozone particles. There has been no explanation as to why the other chemicals went undetected.

An agency official has said that the city needs at least 25 stations in order to provide a comprehensive report on its air quality. The lack of monitoring stations is evidence of the poor attention the city administration has paid to the issue.

Large-scale construction work on the busway corridors and the monorail project and the hectic building of underpasses are believed to have contributed to the concentration of dust in the air. This assumption is debatable, however, as almost all citizens add to air pollution in their own way.

True, the city administration has made several moves to address the capital's air quality, but inconsistencies and law enforcement problems have proved hurdles to the affecting of any substantial change.

Home to around 3 million private cars, some 4 million motorcycles and more 300,000 public transport vehicles, Jakarta is regarded as one of the most polluted cities in Asia, if not the world.

The city administration issued an air pollution control bylaw in 2005 requiring regular emissions tests for private vehicles and banning people from smoking in public places. This was a strong indication of the administration's determination to curb air pollution. It also revived the promotion of the use of alternative fuels, to make amends for the high-profile but failed "Blue Sky" campaign introduced a few years before.

The use of CNG for motor vehicles, which started with several taxi cabs in 1986, was to be renewed in the hope that the move would lead to a gradual decrease in the use of leaded gasoline. The campaign won the half-hearted support of both the central government and the Jakarta administration, but with no tough, integrated efforts from the government and administration to push the use of CNG, the campaign was fruitless.

The ban on smoking in public places is another funny story. At the initial implementation of the bylaw, around April last year, many smokers were banned from smoking in areas specifically designated for the activity. Some smokers experienced rather rude treatment from members of the anti-smoking patrol team the administration established. And now, due to inconsistent enforcement, people are again free to enjoy cigarettes in public spaces.

But worse than all of the above is the poor implementation of the 13-year-old law on traffic and land transportation. Article 54 of the law says that anyone found operating a vehicle that is not roadworthy will be subject to three months in jail or a maximum fine of Rp 3 million. If the law had been properly implemented, the courts would be swarming with the drivers of public transportation vehicles, which spew thick, black smoke out on the city's roads every day.

Now everything has been out of hand for decades. There needs to be another tough and serious move initiated by the government. It could come from the Environment Ministry, the Transportation Ministry or the Jakarta administration. Non-governmental organizations, the press, the community and vehicle manufacturers must also get involved in the national move to clean up the air.

New regulations seem to be unnecessary. The existing laws, bylaws and regulations need to be enforced seriously and reviewed periodically, involving all layers of society.

It's now the high time to make a real and concrete move. Seeking scapegoats and pointing fingers at certain parties will not make any difference. Both the government, including the officials, and the public in general must be responsible for the polluted air in Jakarta.

Isn't it terrible when we are aware that the air we breathe will just get worse and worse?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Busway passengers want improved service, better drivers

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Two years after the debut of Jakarta's busway, passengers are getting increasingly concerned about its quality of service, a survey by the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) revealed on Thursday.

The poll of 1,055 frequent passengers also showed strong resistance to any fare hike or zoned tariff system until the operator pledges to upgrade service.

"Our respondents are motorists who have left their private vehicles in their garages and shifted to the busway service because they expect better public transportation," YLKI's executive Tulus Abadi said.

"The rejection of the planned increased tarriff is not merely about money, but is more about the poor service they experience in using this system."

The survey found the problems that frequently annoy commuters include the disorganized departure and arrival of buses, poor cleanliness, bad drivers and the lack of feeder services.

Tulus predicted an increase in fares would discourage motorists to take busway.

"If the administration goes ahead with tariff hike, they might return to take its own vehicles to work," he said.

The survey was conducted on Dec 30 to Jan. 5 with 60 percent of respondents are commuters of the busway corridor I plying Blok M, South Jakarta to Kota, West Jakarta route.

The administration has earlier said that they would announced the new fare for busway during the launch ceremony of the new four corridors on Jan. 27.

The four new corridors will link Pulogadung in East Jakarta with Dukuh Atas in Central Jakarta; Kampung Melayu in East Jakarta with Ancol in North Jakarta; Ragunan in South Jakarta with Kuningan in South Jakarta; and Kampung Rambutan in East Jakarta with Kampung Melayu in East Jakarta.

The busway operator of the four corridors, TransJakarta, said of out the planned 203 bus fleet, it could only operate 20 because of late assemblage.

Also attending the Thursday press briefing were Indah Suksmaningsih, YLKI's senior executive and Andi Rahmah from non-government organization Pelangi Indonesia who were both members of the Jakarta Transportation Council tasked to formulate the busway new tariff.

Both Indah and Andi said they had long rejected the planned increase of busway tariff.

"The operators must first improve the level of services. I agree to discuss tariff hike after operators meet its promise to deploy more busses and improve the services," Indah said.

While Andi said that the administration must opened tender in selecting consortium in order to get competitive price to operate the busway corridors.

"There must also be audit on the performance of existing operators to know what are inefficiencies in the busway," she said.

The administration said that to make the busway affordable to all the fare needed to stay under Rp 5,000 (53 US cents). It is currently Rp 3,500.

It said the raise is inevitable in a bid to reduce the cost of subsidizing the transportation service. The cost of subsidizing all seven corridors is estimated at Rp 382 billion.

By raising the busway fare to Rp 5,000, the administration might slash the subsidy by 73 percent and reducing the cost of the subsidy to Rp 100 billion.

Jakarta currently operates three corridors with the number passengers of 120,000 per day.

The administration said with the planned 15 corridors, 30 percent of owners of private cars would be shifted to the busway.

To grab more commuters, the administration planned to ban motorbikes from the city main streets Jl. Sudirman, Jl. Thamrin and Jl. Rasuna Said. The survey said that many respondents used the busway service to avoid the daily severe traffic congestions in Jakarta

Friday, January 26, 2007

RI plans to retrieve flight data recorder from crashed jetliner

JAKARTA (AP): Indonesia will attempt to retrieve the flight data recorder from a jetliner that crashed into the sea with 102people on board - a difficult and expensive operation given ocean depths of more than 1,700 meters (one mile) but key to determining the accident's cause, an investigator said Friday.

A U.S. Navy vessel picked up signals from the flight data and cockpit recorders, also known as black boxes, in waters off Sulawesi island, and has informed Indonesian officials of their location, the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta said Thursday.

"The government and U.S. officials have met to determine howto recover the black boxes from the bottom of the sea," said Setyo Raharjo, head of the National Commission on Transportation Safety.

He said Indonesia did not have the seabed salvage technology to retrieve the boxes, which the transport minister said were ata depth of more that 1,700 meters (more than a mile) and close to the last known position of the plane.

Small, unmanned submarines controlled by remote control havebeen used in other countries to recover the black boxes of jetliners that crashed at sea.

The Adam Air Boeing 737 went missing more than three weeks ago after reporting heavy winds off the western coast of Sulawesi while flying from Indonesia's main island of Java.

Search teams have since found almost 200 pieces of debris -mostly small pieces of the wings, tail, cockpit and cabin - but no bodies.

The hull of the aircraft has not yet been recovered, but the embassy said the U.S. ship "detected heavy debris scattered over a wide area" close to where the signals were coming from.

The black boxes record crucial flight data such as a plane's speed and altitude as well as the voices of the pilots

Elite APEC card saves time for travellers

Sick of waiting in line for a visa at the airports of the Asia Pacific?

Salvation could be quite simple - so long as you're deemed worthy of entry into an elite business club.

The APEC Business Travel Card is a little-known system that gives holders a host of benefits.

Cardholders are saved the hassle of applying for individual visas or entry permits in 17 Asia-Pacific nations.

The system amounts to a three-year re-entry permit to all member economies.

And at most airports, they're processed through the airline-crew lane seriously cutting waiting time.

And for Australians the best thing is, it only costs $155.

The system was established in 1996 and is designed to complement APEC's agenda of fostering regional trade.

The convenor of APEC's business mobility group, (who also heads the immigration department's border security division) Vince McMahon said there was anecdotal evidence the system was working.

"You have to look behind the purpose of it, it's about regional business facilitation and the idea of being able to move business executives cleanly and efficiently," he said.

"If you've done a lot of international travel and you know you've got two hours' waiting at the entry port, you might decide you're just not going

Nations signed up to the scheme include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand,Papua New Guinea, People's Republic of China, The Philippines, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Vietnam.

The special APEC business lanes apply at all Australian airports and many in the region.

In November, the United States decided to recognise the card.

In a briefing with journalists this week, the US APEC ambassador, Michael Michalak said the US hoped to fully participate in the scheme.

"When you go through an international airport in the US with an APEC business travel card you'll be allowed to go through the crew lanes, which, if you've ever been through Chicago or Los Angeles, is going to dave you a heck of a lot of time," Mr Michalak said.

"This year we're trying to work with APEC to make sure we can issue the card to American businessmen."

Full US involvement in the scheme was an exciting prospect for the APEC business mobility group, said Mr McMahon.

Russia, Mexico and Canada were also in the preliminary stages of full participation , he said, and if they could be enticed, it would mean all 21 APEC members were involved.

Mr McMahon said the system improved border security because all holders were checked against the criminal databases of their home countries.

And it meant airports could operate more efficiently.

"In general the crew lanes are underutilised, so in effect you're saying let's using something that's already there and take some pressure off the other lanes," he said.

The cards have proved particularly popular with Australians - of the 17,000 issued, Australians have snapped up 7,000.

Mr McMahon said those with aspirations of joining the club needed to prove their business credentials.

"It's not a rigid set of guidelines but you have to establish that you're a senior business person or involved in business activity.

"There would have to be some demonstration... in that context investing in other countries may be one component."

In other words, get back in line.

Adam Air's body may not be lift soon: Minister says

JAKARTA (Antara): Although search teams are now working hard to locate the wreckage of Adam Air plane, the government says that even the body is located, it will not be lifted soon due to the absence of technology.

"... An effort to lift and evacuate the wreckage of Adam Air plane has to wait until there is available technology," Hatta was quoted by Antara news agency Friday.

He, however, said the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Lynn Pascoe had told him that his country would try to lift the plane body after SAR teams locate it.

The Adam Air Boeing 737 went missing more than three weeks ago after reporting heavy winds off the western coast of Sulawesi while flying from East Java's capital of Surabaya to North Sulawesi's capital of Manado.

Search teams have since found almost 200 pieces of debris - mostly small pieces of the wings, tail, cockpit and cabin - but no bodies.

A U.S. Navy vessel picked up signals from the flight data and cockpit recorders, also known as black boxes, in waters off South Sulawesi, and has informed Indonesian officials of their location.

Hatta said that his office has received information about the location of plane's two black boss on Jan 22, but his office delayed announcing it to public for further confirmation and verification.

The position of the flight data recorder is at 1,800 meter-depth under the sea, while its Voice Data Recorder is at 2.000 meter-dept.

Chinese company interested to build Batam-Bintan bridge

Batam, Riau (ANTARA News) - The China Railway Company Corporation (CRCC) was interested to build a bridge to link Batam and Bintan islands in Riau province, CRCC`s Group Chairman Jeffry Goh Coo Tong said.

"We have been long studying it and we are interested in it," Tong told ANTARA here Thursday.

The company has prepared US$350 million to set up the bridge, Tong said. "That is the initial amount. The amount in the next stage is not limited," he said.

Meanwhile, spokesman for the Batam Authority Dwi Djoko said the authority had yet to open tender for the construction of the Batam-Bintan bridge.

"It`s no problem that they have prepared the fund but anyone has to win a tender first to build the bridge," Djoko said.

He pointed out that an open tender was needed to decide a company which would contruct the bridge. "The tender is expected to be opened this year," he added.

Djoko said the CRCC was not the only company which was interested to set up a bridge that would link the two islands as there were also several Malaysian companies that wanted to do so.

In the meantime, spokesman for the Riau provincial administration Muhammad Nur said although the investment in the bridge construction project would be handled by the Batam Authority there should be coordination between the provincial administration and the Bintan district administration.

"It is not only the Batam Authority but also the Bintan district administration which is responsible for the six-kilometer long bridge project," he said, adding that the provincial administration should also think of the supporting infrastructures in Batam and Bintan.

With the presence of the bridge, the trip from Batam to Bintan and vice versa would take only about ten minutes. Local people have so far taken about an hour by ferry to ply the the Batam - Bintan route.

Indonesia to tender for 6 toll roads worth rp17 trln

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The government is planning to hold tenders for six toll road links worth a combined total of about 17 trln rupiah this year, Parlindungan Simanjuntak, deputy head of the toll road regulatory body, said.

The links comprises four sections of road totaling 62 kilometers worth 9 tlrln rupiah in the Jakarta outer ring road project, phase 2. The other two are a 177-km toll road from Solo in Central Java to Ngawi in East Java, and from Ngawi to Kertosono in East Java. These two may cost around 8 trln rupiah.

Simanjuntak said at least three investors have pre-qualified to bid for the links in phase 2 of the ring road project.

He, noted though that the bidding will only be launched after the Ministry of Finance has issued a decree on government support, that may include a risk-sharing arrangement on land acquisition.

On the other two links, he said only two investors participated in the pre-qualification process and the regulations stipulate that for a tender to proceed at least three bidders must participate.

However another potential bidder has now come forward.

"Now we have got a third participant, PT Astratel Nusantara," he was quoted by XFN Asia as saying.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Commuters reject busway fare hike plan

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post): Two years after operation, busway services remained poor prompting commuters to reject the planned tariff hike, a survey by the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) said.

Out of 1,055 surveyed commuters of busway, most opposed any increase of rate and the planned zoning tariff system until the operators meet pledged services.

The administration has planned to increase the busway fare from Rp 3,500 to Rp 5,000.

"Many commuters who reject the plan are the motorists who have been shifting to the busway. The rejection is not merely because of money but also due to the poor services of the busway," Tulus Abadi of the YLKI told reporters.

The survey found that commuters were annoyed with problems such as unorganized arrivals of buses, poor interior cleanliness, poor performance of drivers and lack of feeder buses.

Tulus predicted the planned busway fare increase would discourage motorists to switch to the busway.

"It is a good achievement that 178 commuters at the survey are commuters who previously drive private cars and motorbikes. If the administration goes ahead with tariff hike, commuters might return to take its own vehicles to work," he said.

The survey was conducted on Dec. 30 to Jan. 5 with 60 percent of respondents are commuters in corridor I serving Blok M, South Jakarta to Kota, West Java.

The administration has said that the new tariff would be announced during the launching ceremony of new four corridors.

The four corridors will link Pulogadung in East Jakarta with Dukuh Atas in Central Jakarta; Kampung Melayu in East Jakarta with Ancol in North Jakarta; Ragunan in South Jakarta with Kuningan in Central Jakarta; and Kampung Rambutan in East Jakartawith Kampung Melayu in East Jakarta.

The operator said that it would deploy only 20 buses for four corridors from the planned 203 units.

"How can the administration up the tariff if buses in each corridors are only few," he said.

The press conference was also attended by Indah Sukmaningsih of the YLKI and Andi Rahmah of Pelangi Indonesia. The two are also members of the Jakarta Transportation Council which was tasked to formulate new tariff.

DAS plane wheel broken while landing

JAKARTA (Antara): An Indonesian passenger plane broke its front wheel while landing after aborting a flight Thursday, an airport spokesman said, in the latest of string of aviation incidents.

All 18 passengers and three crew members of the unlucky Dirgantara Air Services (DAS) Casa-212 plane were unhurt after the accident which occurred at Hasanuddin airport in Makassar, South Sulawesi.

"The front landing wheel broke as the airplane made an 'abnormal landing'," spokesman Yan Daulima said.

The plane took off at 10:21 a.m. (02:21 GMT) bound for Pomala in Southeast Sulawesi but returned 24 minutes later citing malfunctions.

It was the latest in a series of mishaps involving aircraft in Indonesia.

In the past week three Boeing jets have abandoned take-off or made emergency returns to airports due to technical problems.

Indonesian airlines have come under closer scrutiny since an Adam Air plane carrying 102 people vanished off Sulawesi on New Year's Day.

Train workers vow to hold huge strike

Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Employees of state-owned railway company PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) threatened Wednesday to stage a national strike.

They claimed to have the full support of workers in other parts of the transportation sector in taking industrial action over management and labor conditions at the company.

The KAI Workers Union (SPKA) said the threat was serious, pointing out that the national strike would cost the government financially and image-wise.

"The national strike is our last resort to tell the government about the urgent need to repair the company's mismanagement and poor labor conditions in order to improve its performance and service to the public," SPKA chairman Eddy Setiawan said.

Workers from state-owned transport companies such as Garuda Indonesia, Merpati Nusantara, state-run bus company PPD, and the Jakarta International Terminal Company have expressed their support for the plan.

The International Transport Workers Federation and the State Ministry for State Enterprises have been informed of the strike, along with KAI's management and security authorities in Bandung in West Java, Medan in North Sumatra and Jakarta where workers will also hold rallies.

Eddy said the KAI workers were disappointed with the government's lack of commitment to revamping the company, as it had promised in 2005, as well as opposing the management's plan to lay off 11,000 of its total 33,000 workers.

"Transportation Minister Hatta Radjasa and State Minister for State Enterprises Sugiharto pledged before President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Jusuf Kalla to repair the mismanagement and the poor labor conditions but nothing has changed, and what we have seen is more and more train accidents happening," he said.

Reports of mismanagement in the company have long been the subject of public criticism, which peaked with the government's decision to suspend paying Rp 400 billion (US$44 million) in its annual subsidy to the company in the form of the public service obligation funds, which are supposed to be used to cover maintenance costs and improve workers' social welfare.

Eddy said the company's workers were not registered with the social security programs of state-owned insurance firm PT Jamsostek and that 11,000 workers would be laid off within the next two years.

Separately, Marjono, a senior staff member at PT KAI in Jakarta, said the increasing number of train accidents was related to the government's suspension of the funds for annual maintenance.

"In the past three years, the management spent Rp 11.8 trillion on maintaining all trains, wagons and railway networks in Sumatra and Java, causing the management to cut the labor cost," he said, while adding that 111 train accidents have happened this month and most were caused by technical errors.

Bandung police urge motorcyclists to turn headlights on during day

Yuli Tri Suwarni, The Jakarta Post, Bandung

West Java police are calling on motorcyclists in the province to switch on their headlamps during the day to improve visibility to other road users.

Some motorcyclist have rejected that advice, arguing it only wastes energy, while others hope it will make two-wheeled travel safer.

Bandung traffic police have been conducting public awareness campaigns once every two days by holding convoys around the city involving hundreds of motorcycles.

The deputy director of the West Java Traffic Police, Adj. Sr. Comr. Bambang Sukamto, said the new guideline was based on a circular issued by the West Java Traffic Directorate after Jakarta and East Java tried the policy.

"Based on reports, the accident rate in East Java has dropped by around 20 percent now," said Bambang.

He said road safety was especially crucial to motorcyclists since 70 percent of the traffic accidents in West Java involve motorcycles.

Bambang said there were nearly 2 million motorcycles in the province in 2006, with the number increasing at an average rate of 13,000 units per month. Private cars, trucks and buses accounted for only around 700,000 units.

"We provide extra protection for motorcyclists because accidents involving motorcycles usually are quite deadly. Aside from helmets, they have no bumpers or protective shells like cars," said Bambang.

Some 73 percent of the 212 traffic accidents in Bandung last year involved motorcycles.

Bandung Mayor Dada Rosada and city police chief Sr. Comr. Bambang Suparsono officially launched the headlight campaign Tuesday by joining a motorcycle convoy.

No law has yet been issued to discipline motorcyclists who do not switch on their headlamps during the day, and no fines are being imposed. The West Java police are still deciding where to apply the headlight policy.

"We'll prioritize areas which are congested with motorcycles, such as Bandung, for instance," said Bambang.

Despite the fact that nearly all motorcyclists have heeded the advice, some are still unwilling to turn on their lights in the daytime.

Rudiyanto, 36, from Buah Batu, is among the critics of the new policy.

"If I turn the light on day and night, I could drain the battery. Are the police going to replace it?" he quipped.

Many automobile drivers were pleased with the new policy, however. Faisal, 34, said he felt more relaxed driving in dense traffic in Bandung because he could more easily spot a motorcycle in his rear-view mirror.

"They usually slip in and out unnoticed, and suddenly they are hit by a car, or they pass you and stop suddenly right in front of you. Sometimes I can't see them, especially when it's already dark," said Faisal.

U.S. Navy finds black box of passenger plane that crashed on New Year's day

JAKARTA (AP):The U.S. Navy has picked up signals from the flight data recorder, or black box, of an Indonesian passenger plane that crashed into the sea on New Year's Day with 96 passengers onboard.

The U.S. Mary Sears located signals "on the same frequency of the black boxes associated with the missing airplane," a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta said. It was unclear when the signals were detected.

Adam Air Flight 574 disappeared more than three weeks ago in a storm off the Western coast of Sulawesi while on flying from the main island of Java.

Sutiyoso's transportation policies queried

Adisti Sukma Sawitri, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Do you like living in Jakarta? If the answer is no, you are probably one of the thousands of Jakartans who are largely dependent on public transportation or ill at ease when faced by the poverty in our midst.

A survey conducted by the Youth and Student Network for Democracy (JPMD) suggested the performance of the Sutiyoso administration has been far from satisfactory in all sectors, resulting in the poor quality of life in the capital.

The majority of the 1,000 respondents said his record in tacking poverty and social exclusion, improving the public transportation and combating corruption in the last five years of his tenure had been poor.

Central Statistics Agency data for 2005 showed the number of people categorized as poor had doubled within a year to 675,700, or 7 percent of the city's population.

Urban planner Marco Sastrawijaya said the weaknesses in Sutiyoso's policies were the result of the current bureaucratic system.

He cited inconsistencies in Sutiyoso's transportation policies such as replacing the slow lanes of Jl. Sudirman and Jl.Thamrin in December with fast lanes, despite the administration's commitment to reducing air pollution in the city.

The administration earlier this month placed road separators on the same main thoroughfares to demarcate slow lanes for motorcycles and public buses in an effort to change the behavior of road users.

"If he is really committed to reducing air pollution, he must say no to additional road expansion projects and reject proposals to build more parking facilities and gas stations," Marco said in a discussion on the survey Wednesday.

Governor hopeful from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) Adang Daradjatun said the city had to create partnerships with its neighboring cities and regencies to overcome its poverty and transportation problems.

"The city is undeniably overcrowded and needs other regions to help it accommodate its surplus population, including newcomers to the city," he said during the discussion.

The Jakarta Population and Civil Registration Agency reported recently that despite the presence of 8.7 million people in the city, only 7.5 million had registered themselves as residents.

Adang said it was also important to empower small and medium enterprises as this was the key to strengthening the city's economic structure.

'Old infrastructure' causes train to derail

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

One car of an economy-class diesel train bound to Rangkasbitung, West Java, derailed Tuesday, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded for almost two hours (see photo).

The incident halted the operation of other trains passing through Palmerah and Kebayoran stations in South Jakarta.

The incident took place at about 4 p.m. on Jl. Tentara Pelajar in Kebayoran Lama, South Jakarta, five minutes after the train departed from Palmerah Station in Central Jakarta.

No casualties were reported in the incident.

"It happened so fast. Suddenly I heard a strange sound, the coach swerved, everybody screamed and the train ground to a halt," said Erni, a passenger from Parung Panjang in Tangerang who was sitting in the fourth carriage of the seven-carriage train.

An hour after the accident, Erni waited for her husband to pick her up. There was still no word from the rail authority, she said.

"(State rail authority) PT KA should do something and not leave the passengers in uncertainty like this," Erni said.

Train driver Sudarto Budi Yusuf said the two wheels of the fourth coach had slid off the rotting rail slats.

"I tried hitting the brakes but the train traveled a further 100 meters before it finally stopped."

Police were quick to arrive at the scene, whereas it took train technicians almost an hour to get there. They separated the first three cars in order to transport some of the passengers to Kebayoran Station. Despite the incident, the passengers did not hesitate to get back in the train.

Others walked the one kilometer back along the railroad to Palmerah Station to take other means of public transportation.

Nia, a university student who lives in Cisalak, Depok, said she did not have the luxury of choice. "I can't afford to be afraid. The train is both cheaper and faster."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Unchecked urban development marginalizes the poor

Anissa S. Febrina, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Imagine Jakarta in 2015.

Some 16.8 million Jakartans step out of mass transit vehicles or private cars and make their way into office buildings, schools, trade centers and malls to start their day.

There are smooth-surfaced streets, colonnaded sidewalks and tree-lined pedestrian sidewalks -- the city shines like a beacon to the rest of the world.

Families live in spartan-looking apartment towers surrounded by parks, or in villas on the suburban fringe.

But everything in life has a price.

In the process of transforming Jakarta into a modern metropolis, more often than not, those who pay the price are the ones who in fact have very limited resources: squatters, kampong people and street traders.

They are the dust that will be swept under the rug.

Comparing the city's current plan to develop Tanah Abang in Central Jakarta as a superblock and the existing condition of the area gives one a pretty clear picture.

Thousands of street and market traders try to make ends meet in the city's most crowded economic center, while thousands of others make the most of their makeshift homes in the alleys of Kebon Kacang.

For outsiders, the word Tanah Abang conjures up images of chaos, but, for its occupants, who are mostly migrants, it symbolizes hope and the dream of surviving in the capital.

In a 20-square-meter makeshift house within a Tanah Abang kampong, Central Java-born Bambang Supriyanto and his nine assistants supply blouses and dresses to kiosks in the neighboring market block.

It only took a small room and a couple of sewing machines to get the business running.

Proximity to the trade center was the sole reason why Bambang rented the house in the kampong. The same goes for the rest of the kampong dwellers.

But, sooner or later, they will have to pay the price for the city's development.

Jakarta's currently revised spatial plan declared Tanah Abang a prospective economic zone, in which an international multifunction area would be developed.

For the city administration and developers, the word "international" quickly leaves the kampong -- which is home to more than 150 small businesses -- out of the picture.

It has not happened, yet, but the master plan has already made the leap to the drawing board at the city Spatial Planning Agency.

The term prospective economic zones is so overused in the spatial plan that it appears to have become meaningless to the Jakarta administration.

In the past three decades, the phrase almost always translates to building superblocks consisting of trade centers, office buildings and high-end apartment blocks.

Most are built after kicking out hundreds of people without proper land documentation, who are deemed illegal squatters by the city administration.

And the evictions are getting fiercer.

The recent eviction of market traders from Pedongkelan, North Jakarta, to make way for a highway project sheds some light on city officials' view of the marginalized.

The traders objected on the grounds the lots they were offered as their new business premise were too small and not strategically located.

Suryantika Sinaga, the head of North Jakarta's small- and medium-scale enterprises agency, responded with: "If they want more land, they should leave Jakarta. They should thank us for giving them a place because, for all this time, they have been occupying someone else's land."

One could easily call those who jump to the defense of the evicted anti-developmentalists.

But development that only benefits a select group is not really development.

Urban development is sustainable if it permanently enhances the capacity of urban society to maintain or improve the quality of life without exhausting non-replaceable resources or damaging the economic, cultural, or natural environment, a 2004 Asian Development Bank report says.

Actually, experts say, the key to the problem lies in just spatial planning.

There is a significant increase in land allocation for "prospective economic areas," which will, by 2010, occupy half of the city.

While settlement areas are shrinking, urban planning expert Bianpoen said the city plan lacked social justice as it continuously evicted the poor to make way for the rich.

Urban planners have repeatedly suggested that the city administration, in facing the problem of slums and squatters, should take a number of new approaches to deal with the issue in a just manner.

The land-sharing method, one of the proposed schemes, was successfully implemented in the city center of Samarinda, East Kalimantan, where 30 percent of the renewed area accommodates the existing population in walk-up apartments.

The land pooling and transferable development rights scheme, which has already been applied in other Asian cities, could also be adopted.

Currently, according to city secretary assistant for welfare, Rohana Manggala, the administration has a number of programs in place to deal with the urban poor.

Efforts range from advocacy for relocated squatters, to help them adopt to life in vertical housing, to direct funding for district development.

"We have also tried to merge the informal sector into superblocks, as we did with the traders and locals evicted during the construction of the Kuningan superblock," Rohana said.

"But, in reality, it is a matter of survival of the fittest," she said.

Perhaps, as Rimbaud said, it is necessary to be absolutely modern. Even if it means continuously sacrificing the class struggle.

Key points of Human Rights Watch's recommendations on issues pertaining to slums and squatters.

1. Impose a moratorium on all evictions carried out on "public order" grounds, until a mechanism can be established whereby independent experts carry out participatory baseline surveys prior to any eviction.

2. Collected information from baseline surveys on the evicted population can be used to design a resettlement program that will leave residents with at least the same standards of living and income levels.

3. Jakarta ordinance No. 11/1988 on public order may require revision.

4. Conform eviction processes to international standards where it should never render individuals homeless or vulnerable to the violation of other human rights.

5. If the government wants to offer alternative land, aim to use sites as close as possible to the original area, and ensure that alternative sites offer residents adequate opportunities to continue existing livelihood activities.

6. Evictions should not occur during the school year or at times when the displacement of families will interrupt children's education. Compensation should cover fees associated with changing schools.

7. Minimize use of force.

8. Consider broader city planning reforms.

Source: www.hrw.org