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, February 28, 2007

Government Discusses Capital Injection for PT KAI

Wednesday, 28 February, 2007 | 16:15 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta: PT Kereta Api Indonesia (the Indonesian Railway Company) is short of facilities and infrastructure maintenance funds amounting to Rp1.4 trillion per year.

According to Hatta Radjasa, Transportation Minister, these maintenance funds are very important in order to improve the security and safety of journeys by train.

Maintenance covers infrastructure construction, replacement of old rails and sleeper, and also carriage as well as locomotive upgrading.

“This lack of maintenance funds must be resolved,” Hatta told reporters during a visit to Cirebon train station with Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Wednesday (28/2).

Every year PT KAI needs maintenance funds totaling Rp2.2 trillion, but the available funds are only Rp800 billion.

During a transportation sector meeting on the presidential train on Wednesday, Hatta talked about the option of injecting capital funds into PT KAI to cover these needs.

This option is one alternative because this state-owned railway company’s revenues are insufficient for the maintenance costs.

However, the government is still discussing the source of funds.

Oktamandjaya Wiguna

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Major reshuffle for Transportation Ministry

JAKARTA: The Transportation Ministry will soon have a major reshuffle involving the ministry's directors general and secretary general, reports say.

A source who asked to remain anonymous told Antara news agency Monday that the ministry would soon inaugurate new secretary general and directors general of sea, air and land transportation, following a series of national transportation accidents.

"Tjuk Sukardiman will be the new secretary general, replacing current secretary general Wendy Aritenang," the source said, referring to the former director general of sea transportation.

Iskandar Abubakar, Hastjarja Harijogi and Moh. Iksan Tatang are the current directors general of land, sea and air transportation, respectively. -- JP

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Indonesia may expand inspection of Boeing jets

Accident prompts scrutiny of 737-300s

BLOOMBERG NEWS

Indonesia may conduct safety checks on all Boeing Co. 737-300s operated by domestic airlines after an accident this week involving the same type of aircraft, its Transport Ministry said Friday.

Indonesia may expand the inspection now under way on seven Adam Air 737-300s operated by PT Adam Skyconnection Airlines, Bambang Ervan, a spokesman at the Transport Ministry, said in a telephone interview in Jakarta, confirming a report Friday by Bisnis Indonesia.

The move could disrupt airline operations in the Southeast Asian nation, where domestic passenger volume growth has averaged more than 25 percent since 1999. Local airlines operate 40 of the Boeing 737-300 planes, Bisnis Indonesia said in its report.

Indonesia's government, which has allowed 70 companies to operate airlines, also plans to rate carriers based on their safety record and will shut those that rank the lowest, Transport Minister Hatta Rajasa said.

Carriers with the best safety record will be ranked one; a rating of two will mean the airline has to fix problems, while those rated three will be forced to close, Rajasa said.

Authorities are examining Adam Air's 737-300 fleet after one of the planes broke its fuselage when it made a hard landing in rainy weather at the Surabaya airport in East Java on Feb. 21. The aircraft was bent and its tail almost touched the runway. It should have withstood the hard landing, Ervan said.

If Adam Air's other six planes show similar problems, the ministry will expand its inspection, he said. Planes under scrutiny will have to be suspended, he said.

Boeing is providing technical support as required to help Adam Air ensure the airworthiness of its fleet, Mark Hooper, a Hong Kong-based spokesman at Boeing, said in an e-mailed statement Friday.

"Boeing stands ready to provide technical assistance to Indonesian authorities as they investigate the cause of this accident," Hooper said.

Ervan couldn't say how long it will take to inspect Adam Air's fleet. "We're looking for irregularities in the production, things that could lead to an accident," he said.

Garuda Indonesia, the nation's largest carrier, has 17 Boeing 737-300s in its fleet of 52 planes, according to its Web site. A Garuda spokesman couldn't be reached for comment.

Wednesday's accident marks the second for Adam Air in less then two months. An Adam Air plane disappeared off the coast of Sulawesi Jan. 1 with 102 people on board.

Indonesian officials have said that the Boeing 737-400 plane probably crashed into the ocean and sank.

Adam Air paints its ill-fated plane

SURABAYA (Antara) : Management of Adam Air has painted its ill-fated plane, which made hard landing at Juanda international airport in East Java's capital of Surabaya Wednesday.

Antara news agency reported that the whole body of the Boeing 737-300 plane had turned into white from its orange dominant color of the airline.

Spokesman of Juanda airport Edmondus Priyono said the move by Adam Air management was still tolerable as long as it will not cause the loss of evidence of the Wednesday's accident.

Edmondus said investigators from the National Commission for Transportation Safety (KNKT) would soon examine the condition of the plane.

"I am waiting for members of KNKT, who will investigate the plane," he was quoted by Antara news agency as saying.

The incident caused cracking in the middle of the plane body, shaping angle of some 35 decrees.

The government grounded all seven Boeing 737-300 planes owned by Adam Air soon after the accident.

Another Adam Air plane went missing with its 108 passengers on its way from Surabaya to North Sulawesi capital of Manado on Jan. 1. Rescuers could find small parts of the plane, but failed to locate the main body and the passengers.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Adam Air passengers ask for money back

The Jakarta Post

TANGERANG: Many people who had booked tickets with Adam Air have asked for their money back, following the incident at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya on Wednesday.

The reason most of them gave was that they had lost faith in the airline.

"I am scared the same thing might happen again if I fly with Adam Air," said Bambang, who had purchased tickets for Balikpapan, East Kalimantan.

"I returned the tickets and got my money back in full. It is not difficult."

Susan, who had tickets to Batam, chose to fly with another airline.

"I returned the tickets after Adam Air canceled its flight to Batam due to the incident in Surabaya." she said.

The government grounded all seven Boeing 737-300 passenger jets operated by Adam Air after one of them made a hard landing in Surabaya on Wednesday.

CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE


The Jakarta Post


A new bajaj (three-wheeled pedicab) -- which takes compressed natural gas (CNG) -- is parked between two old bajaj Friday in Bulungan, South Jakarta.

(JP/Arief Suhardiman)

Hyundai to produce trucks and buses in Indonesia

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - South Korean automotive giant Hyundai will start producing trucks and buses in Indonesia as of March this year with an investment of US$23 million.

"Hyundai is growing confident it will produce trucks and buses in Indonesia after the government decided to stop importing used cars starting this year," the director general of transport industry and telemathics of the ministry of industry, Budi Darmadi, said here on Friday.

He said Hyundai in cooperation with Korindo Group would set up PT Kostramas Jaya in the building of trucks of above 8.5 Gross Vehicle Weight and large buses.

The new plant which will be built in Balaraja, Tangerang, Banten, West Java, will have a capacity of producing around 300 buses and 200 trucks a month.

He said the US23 million investment would only be for building the plant and providing production facilities. "It excludes funds for land procurement, because the land would be provided by Korindo," he said.

He said Hyundai has a highly prospective market in Indonesia for its trucks and buses following the government`s decision to stop the import of used cars, and in view of the country`s high economic growth rate.

"We hope besides trucks and buses Hyundai would also produce passengers cars in Indonesia," he said.

So far the cars produced by Hyundai in Indonesia included Atoz, Accent and Trajet cars. He hoped Hyundai would increase its investment in Indonesia following an increase in market share for smaller cars.

"We continued contacting Hyundai suggesting them to raise their investment in Indonesia," he said.

In November last year, the Indonesian minister of industry visited South Korea to discuss investment in passenger car production.

Budi said he was optimistic that the automotive market in Indonesia would further develop. He also believed demands for cars would reach 400,000 units this year after dropping last year to around 300,000 only.

"We are optimistic sales would reach 500,000 units by the end of 2008 like in 2005," he said.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Experts warn Jakarta Bay project may up flood risk

Adianto P Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The construction of the North Flood Canal in Jakarta could be one way of reducing the flood risk in the city.

But the ongoing land reclamation project -- which will modify a 32-kilometer stretch of the city's northern coastline, extending it seaward -- will render it ineffective, environmentalists warned Wednesday.

State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar said the reclamation of the seabed would obstruct the movement of water back toward the sea.

He suggested the Jakarta administration reconsider its decision to carry out its own environmental impact analysis for the project.

"The administration must involve the central government in the process because the project will also affect the environment in neighboring provinces."

The controversial reclamation project would add about 2,700 hectares to the city. The land would be designated for industrial parks, hotels, office buildings and upscale accommodation for up to 1.19 million residents.

Governor Sutiyoso, in his appearance on Metro TV during the flood early this month, said the reclamation project would be one way of preventing floods caused by high tides.

Forty percent of the city is situated below sea level.

"About 72 percent of the world's coastal cities have reclaimed part of their seabeds. It is an age-old issue. We will monitor the project all the way and stop it if the land reclamation is damaging the environment," Sutiyoso said.

An expert from the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), Atika Lubis, said the construction of infrastructure near the cost would increase the flood risk in the city.

"The reclamation project will, of course, jeopardize the success of the North Flood Canal. It will reduce the rate at which surface water reaches the sea, thus causing floods."

She said the administration needed to be aware of the slow permeability rate of the city's land.

"The reforestation of areas of North Jakarta, for example, will not contribute much to flood prevention efforts because clay does not hold water very well," she said.

"Therefore, the construction of apartments, hotels or other infrastructure along the coastline or in delta areas will further hold up the flow of water into the sea," she said.

Armi Susandi, a coordinator at the Indonesia Association of Geophysicists (HAGI), warned more areas of Jakarta would be prone to flooding in the future due to global warming.

"The water level in Jakarta Bay will rise by 57 millimeters a year, while the land will subside by 80 mm a year," he said.

Armi, who is also an ITB meteorologist, said many areas of Cilincing, Koja, Tanjung Priok, Pademangan and Penjaringan in North Jakarta would be under water by 2050.

"By our estimations, some 160 square kilometers of Jakarta will be swamped by 2050," he said.

Global warming, the gradual increase in the earth's surface temperature, is thought to be caused by human activity.

Meanwhile, ITB geologist Lambok Hutasoit said the presence of buildings higher than six stories in Central Jakarta had caused the land to sink by between 22 and 75 cm in two years.

"People are blaming land subsidence on the exploitation of groundwater. But it only comprises 17 percent of the problem," he said.

Lambok proposed the construction of giant groundwater tunnels to prevent floods in the rainy season and water shortages in the dry season.

"We can apply the underground tunnel system developed in Chicago, where a 200-km tunnel was built to store water," said Lambok, who is also an expert at the city's mining agency.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Garuda, Merpati stakes up for grabs

Ary Hermawan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government is to sell up to 49 percent and 40 percent respectively of its stakes in carriers Garuda Indonesia and Merpati Nusantara this year in an effort to overhaul their performances and help plug the budget deficit.

Garuda and Merpati will be among nine state enterprises in which stakes will be sold this year under the privatization program. In addition, the government will also sell off its minority stakes in six other companies.

"The privatization committee has approved the divestment of stakes in nine SOEs and six publicly listed firms," State Minister for State Enterprises Sugiharto said Tuesday on the sidelines of a hearing with the House of Representatives' finance commission.

Besides Garuda and Merpati, the state will also sell stakes in state firms PT Jasa Marga, Bank Negara Indonesia, PT Wijaya Karya, PT ISI, PT Iglas, PT Cambrics Primisima and PT Permodalan Nasional Madani.

Meanwhile, the state will sell its entire minority stakes in PT JIHD, PT Atmindo, PT Intirub, PT PPLI, PT Kertas Blabak and PT Kertas Basuki Rahmat.

However, the privatization committee has delayed the planned divestment of stakes in PT BTN, PT Krakatau Steel, PT Dirgantara Indonesia, PT Kertas Padalarang and five consulting firms until comprehensive studies on the firms have been completed.

In the case of turnpike operator Jasa Marga, the government plans to gradually sell of up to a maximum of 49 percent of its 100 percent stake so as to strengthen the firm's capital base and finance the construction of the Semarang-Solo expressway in Central Java, the Gempol-Pasuruan expressway in East Java and the Bogor orbital route in West Java.

As for PT BNI, the government plans to reduce its stake in the bank from the current 99.12 percent to 51 percent through both a rights issue and the divestment of 20 percent of its overall stake.

Meanwhile, the state will sell its entire stakes in PT Industri Soda Indonesia (100 percent), PT Industri Gelas (63.82 percent) and PT Cambrics Primissima (52.79 percent).

The privatization program is officially expected to generate proceeds of Rp 3.3 trillion this year, but Sugiharto said the government might revise the figure upwards to Rp 4.3 trillion.

"We still have to discuss the plan with the House budget committee," he said.

While the government is upbeat about the divestment program, privatization remains a sensitive issue.

In response to the government's plans, lawmakers decided Tuesday to set up a working committee to scrutinize the proposed divestments before giving their approval.

"We don't want the case of PT Indosat to happen again," said Nursanita Nasution of the Prosperous Justice Party, referring to the fact that the state has been left with only a 14 percent stake in Indosat after about 42 percent of its shares in the company were sold to Singapore Technologies Telemedia Pte. Ltd. (STT).

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani said the government promised to keep the privatization process transparent.

"The government, and in particular the Finance Ministry, has asked the State Ministry for State Enterprises to improve all the relevant procedures and to do everything transparently," she said.

Air crew nabbed for data manipulation

Multa Fidrus, The Jakarta Post, Tangerang

Airport police announced Tuesday they had arrested 13 employees of Adam Air low-cost airline and an employee of airport operator PT Angkasa Pura for allegedly manipulating passenger data for their own gain.

The practice is believed to have been going on since August.

"We have questioned 43 airline employees. Thirteen of them have been named suspects and consequently detained," Soekarno-Hatta Airport Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Guntur Setyanto said.

The preliminary questioning of the suspects revealed how they worked, police said.

The suspects changed the status of passengers in the check-in counter computer database from regular to transit.

"They altered passenger information in order to increase the total number of transit passengers.

"On paper, this caused a reduction in the total amount of air passenger duty collected. The duty is payable according to how many passengers are departing the country. This allowed Adam Air employees to get away with depositing less with the airport operator," officer Guntur said.

Air passenger duty is levied by the government and collected by the carrier issuing the ticket.

Guntur said the money made from the illegal venture was split between the airline employees and a PT Angkasa Pura employee in the passenger service charge section.

The only female suspect, Lia, said she had no idea she was involved in a criminal activity.

The check-in counter attendant said she had been asked by her supervisor to change the passenger data and later received a sum of money.

"I thought the money was a bonus from my supervisor," she said, adding that she would never knowingly participate in a crime.

Police seized a number of passenger tickets, passenger lists and a computer from the check-in counter.

The suspects have been charged under Article 372 of the Criminal Code on embezzlement, which carries a maximum punishment of five years' jail.

Police suspect other airlines operating at the airport might be involved in similar activities and plan to investigate their data-collection systems.

"We will not stop here. Our investigators are looking into the activities of other airlines because we believe there must be a strong network among airline employees to have given them the confidence to do this," Guntur said.

However, police have yet to calculate the potential loss of airport tax revenue to the state.

"We cannot put a figure on it until we have processed identification data on passengers against the data entered in the system. We have to dig deeper," he said.

He said the duty on flights was Rp 30,000.

"It's been going on since August and possibly even before that. If they collected Rp 30,000 from even 50 passengers a day, you can imagine how much money they made."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Indonesian firm launches women-only buses

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - An Indonesian company has launched a women-only bus service, believed to be the first in the world's largest Muslim-populated country, a report said Monday.

Five buses would initially serve a new route in Pekanbaru, capital of Riau province on the island of Sumatra, the Kompas newspaper said in its online edition.

PT Riau Kencana Madani launched the service to provide women with a safe mode of transport that would also protect them from sexual harassment, as frequently happened on regular buses, it quoted company president Deddy Mizward as saying.

While accepting only female passengers, the buses would still be driven by men as Mizward said they had so far failed to recruit any women willing to work as drivers.

Most Indonesian Muslims, accounting for more than 80 percent of the country's some 214 million people, follow a moderate form of Islam.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Flood prevention on MRT advisors' agenda

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

To ensure the safety of Jakarta's Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system, the project's Japanese-Indonesia advisory committee has announced its plans to discuss flood prevention later this year.

The decision was made last week after the first meeting of the committee, which comprises experts and media representatives from both countries.

Japanese Deputy Ambassador Satoru Satoh said Thursday the advisory committee resolved to meet twice a year for two to three years before starting the construction.

The committee has three main agenda items for the coming meetings.

First, Satoh said, would be discussion of possible designs for the MRT. He said designs would have to be able to ensure passengers' safety and security, prevent flooding and provide a plan for mitigating traffic jams during construction.

Second on the agenda were arrangements for the sustainable operation and maintenance of the MRT, as well plans to connect the new system to Jakarta's existing public transport.

As the third item, the committee would also discuss public relations efforts to improve the manners of public transport users, Satoh said.

"The second meeting of the committee we decided would be held in the second half of this year," he said.

During their first meeting last week, committee members also conducted a survey on the MRT project site and reviewed Jakarta's traffic.

According to Satoh, the results of the meeting will be submitted as "recommendations" to Transportation Minister Hatta Rajasa and Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso.

The project, which is supported by the Japanese government, will span 14.5 kilometers -- including a 4 km underground section -- connecting Dukuh Atas in Central Jakarta to Lebak Bulus in South Jakarta.

Construction is expected to start in 2008, with the completed MRT up and running by 2014.

The meeting is the first sign of progress since the Japanese government agreed in November last year to provide a US$16.4 million loan to finance preconstruction work. The loan came with an interest rate of .4 percent.

The preconstruction work, which would take 18 to 24 months to complete, includes the design of the principal components of the MRT system and the establishment of a company to manage construction.

Satoh said the Japanese government and the project advisory committee would ensure the tender process is transparent.

"No companies either from Japan or Indonesia have been named to hold the project. The tender auction will be announced later through the media," he said.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Experts recommend tracking land-use trends from the sky

Anissa S. Febrina ,The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The regular evaluation of satellite images of the city could be useful in further efforts to monitor land use trends and their impact on the environment, an urbanist suggests.

Speaking at a public lecture Wednesday at Tarumanagara University, Andrea Peresthu of Technische Universitet Delft in the Netherlands explained that satellite imaging technology could help provide the government with a picture of the distribution of the city's ecosystem and land conversion patterns.

"The city administration could evaluate the GIS (geographical information system) images every six months, for example, to track which areas have been overutilized for commercial or residential purposes," Andrea said.

Overutilization and rapid land conversion, especially the conversion of water catchment areas for commercial and residential facilities, was one of the major contributors to the massive flooding in Greater Jakarta last week.

However, there is no valid data on the actual scale of land conversion and how much it contributed to the flooding, urban planning expert Suryono Herlambang said.

The Spatial Planning Agency, which is responsible for monitoring land use in the city, has complained its limited human resources make keeping a close eye on land conversion an impossibility.

Here is where GIS comes into play.

The Geographical Information System (GIS) brings together all types of information based on geographic location for the purposes of query, analysis and the generation of maps and reports.

It is a computer-based method of recording, analyzing, combining and displaying geographic information such as roads, streams, land formations or habitat types, sensitive areas, soil types, or any other feature that can be mapped on the ground.

Its product, a satellite photograph of a certain area, has been widely used in developed countries to assist in city planning and land-use management.

One of the most popular publicly accessible GIS images is provided by Google Earth.

The technology is already available at the National Aeronautics and Space Institute (Lapan), but is still underutilized by city administrations.

"We can provide images up to 1:25,000 in scale," Lapan remote sensing research and development division head Ratih Dewanti said.

A 1:25,000 image is three times more detailed than the regular city map and can show actual building density.

Lapan provides the 1:25,000 image for commercial use, while for public use it only provides a 1:500,000 image.

Despite the availability of the technology, the Spatial Planning Agency has not made use of it in urban planning and land management efforts, Ratih said.

According to Andrea, tracking changes through GIS images could be followed up with further analysis and evaluation, including tracking land conversion rates and population growth patterns, as well as sociodemographic patterns and land prices.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Indonesia to issue longer visas to draw more tourists

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia is to grant foreign visitors visas for up to 120 days compared to the current 30 days in a bid to boost tourism, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said Thursday.

"It is now being processed, that tourists get four months," Kalla told AFP during an interview here.

He said the longer visa was part of the government's drive to attract more foreign visitors.

At present, tourists from 54 countries can obtain a 30-day visa on arrival at a cost of 25 dollars, or free for most Southeast Asian nations.

Kalla said the 54 countries -- which include most of Europe, China, India, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand -- accounted for about 90 percent of Indonesia's foreign tourists.

Visitors have complained that 30 days is far too short a time to take in the vast archipelago, which stretches for thousands of kilometres (miles).

Indonesia's drive to boost tourist numbers has also suffered due to a lack of money to promote the country abroad because of more pressing budget priorities.

"But I said that tourism is also a priority and therefore this year the budget will be increased on top of what is in the state budget," Kalla said, without giving figures.

Indonesia recorded a 2.38-percent drop in foreign tourist arrivals to 3.98 million in 2006.

Tourism has been hurt by a number of terrorist attacks in recent years, including on the popular resort island of Bali, as well as bird flu and a series of man-made and natural disasters.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Govt allocates deconcentration fund for transportation development: minister

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The central government has allocated deconcentration fund amounting to Rp18.3 trillion for transportation development sector across the country in 2007, a minister has said.

"Allocating the deconstration fund will hopefully narrow inter-region gap in infrastructure development," Coordinating Minister for Economy Boediono said in a document for the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) made available here Thursday.

According to the document, the government has also allocated a deconcentration fund of Rp4.6 trillion for irrigation sector, Rp1.99 trillion for flood management program, and Rp1.2 trillion for drinking water and wastes management projects.

The deconcentration fund is the central government`s money which is handed to the provincial administration for various development programs.

Aside from the deconcentration fund, State Budget 2007 has allotted fund amounting to Rp190 billion for border area development, Rp464 billion for strategic and growing zone development, Rp1.02 trillion for less-developed region development, and Rp847 billion for rural infrastructure and means development.

The document stated that other instrument which will be used to narrow inter-region gap is Public Allocation Fund (DAU).

Quoting a latest study on DAU impact on regional disparity, Boediono said DAU 2006 brought better impact than previous DAU.

However, he said, there is still a room to improve DAU formula that in the long run it is more capable of further narrowing inter-region development gap.

Boediono was also quoted as saying that the government provided 434 districts and towns with Special Allocation Fund (DAK) totaling Rp17 trillion which can be used to improve various infrastructures and means.

"Some Rp5 trillion of the fund will be used to make roads and irrigation as well as to set up clean water facilities," Boediono was quoted as saying.

Permit Removal of 11 Airlines Delayed

Thursday, 15 February, 2007 | 16:31 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta: The government has offered a chance to long-inactive airlines to become operational when their situations permit this possibility.

“We understand that today's situation is indeed difficult,” said M. Iksan Tatang, Director General of Air Transportation at the Department of Transportation, yesterday (02/14) in the Parliamentary complex, Jakarta.

According to him, the current intricate situation in the air transport business is due to low public confidence as numerous aircrafts accidents have recently occurred.

As a result, air transport operators are facing difficulties in their communications with other parties such as aircraft leasing companies.

Tatang also cited unfair press coverage on aircraft accidents as having also contributed to the weakening air transport businesses.

“News on air transport is read world-wide. Should reports be unfair, they may become a boomerang,” he said

However, Tatang said he considered that other countries were also facing difficult times regarding air transport businesses.

Article 54 of Transportation Ministerial Decree Number 81/2004 on Air Transport Holding states that operators that halt their operations must re-activate them within 90 calendar days at the latest.

Should this deadline expire, according Article 56, operators will be sent written warnings three times in a row at 1-month intervals

Afterwards, permits would be frozen for one month and if no improvements were made during this period, the permits would be revoked.

Based on data of the Department of Transportation, 11 airlines had been deactivated between April 2003 and December 2006.

Harun Mahbub

ADB Funds Water Quality Study in West Tarum Canal

ADB - 15 February 2007 - In response to Jakarta's serious water problems, ADB is funding a study on water quality in the West Tarum canal, which provides 80% of the capital city's freshwater supply.

Read the full story

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Flood damages 20% of city's roads

The Jakarta Post

BEKASI: The Public Works Agency has made a Rp 14 billion (about US$1.5 million) budget request in a bid to repair flood damage to some 20 percent of the city's roads.

Of the city's total 940 kilometers of road, 118 km were damaged in the floods, which also affected Bekasi.

"We have given our proposal to the central government," Public Works Agency head Agus Sutyasno said.

Most of the damaged roads are those under central government authority as many of them are inter-province roads linking Bekasi with Jakarta.

"Roadwork could begin at any time, even before the funding comes through," Agus said.

Government pledges food aid for flood-affected families

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government will for the next two months provide basic food items for flood victims in order to improve their nutritional status as well as goods and service flow in the city, a minister says.

The provision of food assistance is part of efforts to prevent any further social and economic impacts from the disaster.

"The main focus after the flooding is on how to keep the economy running as usual, in terms of common businesses, industries, and the basic needs of the public," Coordinating Minister for the Economy Boediono said Monday after a ministerial meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on the matter at the State Palace.

"We will continue supplying the market with as much staple food as needed, mainly rice for those affected by the flooding, and recover export, import and distribution activities."

Coordinating Minister for the People's Welfare Aburizal Bakrie said the distribution of basic food items -- primarily rice -- would be conducted in the standard manner for any region struck by a disaster.

"How much we provide will depend on the data on victims as reported by the Provincial Disaster Coordination Board (Satkorlak) and the National Disaster Management Coordination Board (Bakornas)," he said.

Aburizal said a household might receive a 10-kilogram monthly rice ration, estimating a total of 6,000 tons for the next two months if 300,000 people were affected.

The government will provide the rice from the Social Affairs Ministry's 230,000-ton emergency stock of rice for disaster purposes, he said.

Boediono said the government would also provide health services as needed for the victims, and ensure security during the post-flooding recovery process.

Torrential rains earlier this month inundated more than half of the capital, taking a toll of at least 50 lives, and forcing some 500,000 others to seek refuge. .

Deputy head of the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) Lucky Eko Wuryanto provided the latest estimate of Greater Jakarta's total flood losses of Rp 8 trillion (US$888 million), an increase from the previous Rp 4.3 trillion estimate.

Bappenas is assessing how much of the losses the central government and the Jakarta administration will each shoulder.

The flooding, having disrupted the distribution of goods in the capital, could potentially push up inflation, which has recently been slowing but has also been affected by the recent spike in rice prices.

Monday, February 12, 2007

ICAO Audits Transportation Department

Friday, 09 February, 2007 | 12:42 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta: The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is auditing aviation organizations under the aegis of the Transportation Department regarding the safety factor.

The organizations being audited are the National Committee for Transportation Safety, National Search & Rescue Agency, Directorate of Air Certification and Adequacy and the Directorate of Flight Safety.

The audit has been continuing for a week and will last two weeks according to plan.

“This is a regular item, but it is intensified due to the Adam Air incident,” said Head of the Transportation Committee, Setio Rahardjo, yesterday (8/2) in Jakarta.

Harun Mahbub

Disaster-fatigue and the importance of a Plan B

Manggi Habir, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Within a relatively brief period, we have witnessed a series of tragic disasters, both natural and man-made. This has ranged from the Aceh tsunami to the Adam Air plane crash and more recently to the Jakarta floods. This begs the question as to what we have learned from these painful experiences?

Unfortunately, we must admit not much. With limited resources and awareness, we have often ignored disaster prevention measures in our everyday routines. One notable trend, however, is that with a weak first line of defense, there is a growing importance of contingency disaster plans, or what companies often refer to as plan B (as opposed to the normal operating plan A). And with bird flu just around the corner, our plan B abilities will be truly put to test.

Preventive measures are, in the long run, more cost effective than remedial measures that kick in during and after a disaster. This is intuitive and common sense. On an individual level, better to buy and wear a motorcycle helmet than pay a brain surgeon to reassemble your head. For an airline, better to spend on safety measures than damage your reputation and forego potential revenue from customers switching to safer airlines.

For an oil company, it is better to ensure that safety standards are adhered to (especially when drilling in close proximity to heavily populated areas and public transportation facilities), than to have to pay for damages and compensation. For a provincial government, it better spending on early warning systems and going through practice runs, rather than having to relive another Aceh tsunami or Yogyakarta earthquake tragedy.

And for a municipal governor, better to spend on improving urban canals and drainage systems rather than losing political capital because of floods, should one have further political ambitions.

But, unfortunately, preventive measures are not without cost, while it is always hoped disasters will happen to somebody else, and thus are not a certainty. And with the lack of awareness of the need for preventive measures, even periodic building evacuation exercises remain a rarity.

Companies with the resources normally incorporate preventive measures in their business plans. They do this by identifying critical risk areas in their businesses, and correspondingly install ways to address and minimize these risks. In the absence of insurance, losses are quantified, should mishaps occur, and funds are set aside to cover these potential losses.

Minimum industry safety standards are set and adhered to with proper government or industry enforcement carrying sufficient penalties for non-compliance. Not easy in a developing environment, and to be fair even developed ones find this difficult.

It is like having to exercise, eat a balanced diet and have regular medical check-ups to avoid paying huge hospital bills later on. We know it is good for us, but never have the urgency or time, until unfortunately it is too late. Human nature is such that we tend to ignore the negatives and instead focus on the positives. It must be our survival instinct.

Indeed, it is our weakness in implementing and enforcing preventive measures in our daily routine that leads to the prominence of plan Bs. This is inevitable in an increasingly riskier world, with increased volatility brought about by, among other things, globalization, more frequent and extreme climatic changes and technological innovations. So what constitutes a credible plan B?

This column is not meant to be a treatise on how to do a plan B. Suffice to say that a plan B should have adequate funding, a realistic action plan, an organization with a credible chain of command to the very top (to get visibility, a buy-in from everyone and decisive decision making) and a focal point of communication to ensure accurate and consistent information is made public.

But a plan means nothing if it is not practiced. So it is vital that we do periodic practice runs. Plan B's ideally should remain a work in progress and, after each practice run, constantly fine-tuned to ensure credibility and effectiveness. Tsunami and earthquake practice runs are important exercises to go through. It is sort of like having an army in peacetime. We want them to be battle-ready and continually practice for a war, which we hope will never happen.

This brings me to bird flu, which has already claimed lives and could escalate further into a more deadly pandemic. Experts all agree it is just a matter of time before we have a pandemic. So, in this case, the early warning systems have already been switched on, flashing yellow warning lights. Unlike the recent tsunami and earthquakes, we have the luxury of a bit more time and thus both preventive and contingency plans need to be reviewed and put into action simultaneously.

Preventive measures include ensuring we are vigilant and report any dead birds to the authorities, and when the virus is identified ensuring we cull all fowl and animals (with proper compensation) that could transmit the disease within the surrounding area.

Identify key areas where the deadly virus can breed, like crowded wet markets where people and animals converge and try to ensure as clean an environment as possible. There has been heartening news of a bird flu vaccine being developed in Australia with some success. Although it remains to be seen how soon it can be safely used.

On the plan B remedial side, hospitals have been designated to cater for bird flu patients and isolation wards have been established. Aside from the hardware, it is important to coordinate the dissemination of information to ensure the public is made more aware about bird flu, the symptoms, the dangers and where to go for help should they identify it in their respective communities. Ways to deal with affected relatives and communities to ensure that the disease is isolated and contained is also important.

With all that has happened, it is no wonder we are suffering from a bit of disaster-fatigue. And it is now that our leaders, instead of pointing fingers at each other, should start showing real leadership. It is an opportune time, especially with the general elections only two years away.

The writer is a financial and business analyst and a lecturer at Tarumanegara University in West Jakarta.

Invest now or the whole of Jakarta will be submerged

Riyadi Suparno, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Floods have paralyzed Jakarta at least twice, now and back in 2002, and experts believe that the flooding is becoming a five-yearly "event," and that unless something is done to prevent it, we will have another major flood in 2012 or even sooner.

This time, the flooding is said to have been the worst ever, with 70 percent of the city affected last week. The losses have been huge, including dozens of fatalities. The official estimate puts total losses at Rp 4.3 trillion (US$470 million). This estimate includes losses resulting from disruption to industry and trade, household losses, damaged infrastructure and lost productivity.

Such estimates, however, do not cover intangible losses, such as the terrible inconveniences and mental distress caused to the victims.

Looking at all these losses, both tangible and intangible, as well as the potential losses from future floods, we might well wonder why the central and Jakarta governments have not invested more in flood-prevention infrastructure.

To date, most of our flood defenses were built by the Netherlands Indies administration, i.e., the canal system that channels water from the western part of Jakarta to the sea.

About 20 years ago, the city administration drew up plans to build the 23.5-kilometer East Flood Canal to divert water heading to Central and North Jakarta through a number of rivers to the sea. This project, however, is still in limbo due to the lack of money allocated for the project in the Jakarta annual budget.

Following the massive flooding in 2002, the Jakarta administration drew up a more comprehensive flood-prevention master plan, which incorporated the construction of the East Flood Canal. The master plan also envisages the construction of more sluice gates and water-retention ponds, river dredging and the relocation of riverside dwellers.

The plan will need a total investment of Rp 18.1 trillion, but to date has largely remained nothing more than a plan because not enough money has been committed to seeing it through.

But why the paucity of funding? Why has inadequate investment been made in flood-prevention projects given the massive losses that the inundations produce?

The answer may lie in politics, where proper project analysis is frequently absent. Projects of lower economic value are often prioritized by the politicians if they deliver immediate benefits that can be felt by their constituents, while projects of greater value may be ignored if their benefits will only become apparent years down the line.

And flood-prevention projects definitely fall into the latter category, where the benefits will not be immediately apparent upon the completion of the projects, as compared, for example, to the Jakarta monorail, whose benefits will be immediate. This might explain why the Jakarta administration is a lot more interested in pursuing the monorail project than the East Flood Canal project.

Unlike the monorail, where private investors are keen to invest their money, especially after a controversial government guarantee was given, flood-prevention projects like the East Flood Canal do not attract much interest from the private sector. This is what economists normally refer to as "market failure".

In such a situation, the government has an obligation to intervene. If the Jakarta government has no resources or lacks the capacity to implement the plan, the central government has to take it over. Otherwise, the plan will remain on the drawing board for ever.

There is no reason for the central government not to take over the project. First of all, it will have a spillover effect in two other provinces -- West Java and Banten.

Secondly, the government has the capacity and resources to implement the plan. If the government lacks ready cash at the moment, it can always borrow to finance this essential project.

In fact, financing the expansion of Jakarta's flood defenses through borrowing would be eminently sensible, and even be the fairest way of all as the benefits that the project will bring will extend to succeeding generations. By financing these projects through borrowing, the next generation will also play a part in paying for the benefits it will enjoy from the investment we make today.

Conversely, we must also ensure that we do not burden succeeding generations with unnecessary expense resulting from markups and corruption during the course of the works.

So, we have no other choice now than to soon put this comprehensive flood mitigation plan into effect. Otherwise, the whole of Jakarta could well be submerged in 2012, or even sooner.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Missing airliner's status is final, minister says

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Transportation Minister Hatta Rajasa said Friday that the legal status of the missing Adam airliner's passengers and crew has been finalized.

Families of the deceased will now be able to start the insurance claims process.

"It is already final. The National Search and Rescue Agency has halted its search operations," he said.

He was quoted by Antara as saying that the agency had submitted its report to the government and Adam Air management on Tuesday.

Agency chairman Bambang Karnoyudho had said on Wednesday that the legal status of the victims was still unclear as no bodies had been recovered.

There were 96 passengers and 6 crew on board the Adam Air flight when it vanished en route from Surabaya to Manado.

Bambang said it was the responsibility of the government to set the final status of the victims, as his agency was only tasked with finding the wreckage.

The Indonesian government has received help from several countries, including the United States and Singapore, in locating the remains of the plane.

The flight data recorders were found by the USNS Mary Sears using a device called a towed pinger locator to detect their signals.

Hatta said that the victims' status had been finalized after he had visited with the families of the dead the area on the Majene Sea where the plane is believed to have crashed.

Separately, Adam Air CEO Gunawan Suherman confirmed that his company had received the agency's report, enabling all parties to start claiming insurance benefits.

The company has said it will provide Rp 500 million (US$55,555) in compensation to the next of kin of the victims. This comes on top of the Rp 50 million in insurance benefits being provided by the state-owned PT Jasa Raharja insurance company.

The crew's heirs will receive more compensation than those of passengers, although the amount has not been disclosed.

Provinces 'better prepared' for disaster than Jakarta

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Several provinces are better prepared to deal with natural disasters than Jakarta, the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMG) said Friday.

"There are six provincial administrations that are the most concerned with weather changes as well as natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis," agency head Sri Woro B. Harijono said during a meeting with members of the Regional Representatives Council.

She said the provinces of West Sumatra, Lampung, Banten, Central Java, Maluku and Gorontalo were all well prepared for any disaster.

"For instance, Gorontalo provincial administration was the first to request the agency install a server to detect earthquakes and tsunamis," Sri told reporters.

The server is equipped with software that will automatically alert local citizens with sirens whenever an earthquake is detected.

The Gorontalo administration, she said, paid to have one installed in the middle of last year. West Sumatra then followed suit.

"Meanwhile, Central Java and Lampung have provided, respectively, a building for a climatology monitoring station and a plot of land for a weather radar tower," she said.

The Jakarta administration, however, is notable only for its lack of action, she said.

"The Jakarta administration has yet to take such action as the other six provinces," Sri said.

"May be the administration thinks that the city is not on the continental plate that might cause earthquakes and tsunamis," she added.

She said that her agency had sent a prediction for torrential rain to the administration on Feb. 1 at 00:20 a.m., a day before the floods hit Jakarta.

"Concerned institutions that receive data sent by the agency should take follow-up action," Sri said.

The Jakarta Public Works Agency's water resources development division said it had acted after receiving the forecast.

"We disseminated the information to related institutions. We also began operating flood posts for victims, shortly after we received the information," the head of the division, I Gede Nyoman Soewandi, told The Jakarta Post.

"We did not, however, predict that the heavy rain would cause this much damage," he added.

So far the flooding in Greater Jakarta has killed 54 people, forced at least 340,000 from their homes, and left more than 200,000 homeless.

Prih Harjadi, deputy for data systems and information at the BMG, said the dissemination of such information needed to be comprehensive and support public awareness and preparedness for natural disasters.

"Sophisticated technology to disseminate information swiftly will not be useful should the people be unaware and unprepared," said Prih.

"Local administrations should also take part in increasing public awareness and preparedness for natural disasters. The administrations should make a plan to help residents evacuate when a natural disaster occurs," he added.

Banning motorcyclists not the right solution

Deden Rukmana, The Jakarta Post

Jakarta's governor, Sutiyoso, has proposed banning motorcyclists from Jl. Thamrin, Jl. Jenderal Sudirman and Jl. Rasuna Said as a result of the skyrocketing number of motorcycles in Jakarta. Apparently, the governor does not want to see Jakarta become a second Hanoi, where motorcyclists dominate the streets.

Unsurprisingly, the idea of banning motorcycles from main thoroughfares in Jakarta drew protests from motorcyclists, including ojek (motorcycle taxi) drivers. They argue the idea is misconceived and violates their rights to use the public highway.

Is the idea of banning motorcycles from main thoroughfares really misconceived? Is the increased dominance of motorcycles on the streets a bad thing?

It is clear that the increase in the number of motorcycles reduces the capacity of streets in Jakarta. The development of the capital's road network has not kept pace with the growth in motor vehicle ownership in Jakarta. The growth in the overall length of Jakarta's roads is only 1 to 2 percent per annum. On the other hand, motor vehicle ownership is growing by around 15 percent per year.

One way to reduce the congestion is to shift people from private transportation to public transportation. Do we have a public transport system that is accessible, affordable and integrated for people living in metropolitan Jakarta? I doubt it, and this is why we are seeing an increasing number of motorcycles in Jakarta. Friends say that people who live in the outskirts of Jakarta can save as much as 30 percent of their transportation costs when they ride their motorcycles to work rather than taking public transport.

There are some positive aspects of the increasing number of motorcycles in Jakarta. This phenomenon provides evidence of the ability of working people to meet their transportation needs. It is a good sign of accelerating economic growth. The automotive sector is a major part of the consumption variable in GDP. This consumption variable accounted for 64 percent of Indonesia's GDP in 2005. Even though we have still not fully recovered from the economic crisis, working people have been able to satisfy their transportation needs and contribute to economic growth.

As the number of motorcycles grows, we will see positive multiplier effects in our economy. We will see more motorcycle dealers, finance firms that provide the loans for the purchase of motorcycles, more jobs for motorcycle mechanics, and increasing demand for helmets, jackets, sunglasses, etc.

The uses of motorcycles in Jakarta also demonstrates the sacrifices made by working people to get to work. Driving a motorcycle requires more energy than riding on public transportation. It is even worse when the weather is bad. We should give motorcyclists credit for their sacrifices.

Of course, there are also negative aspects of the increasing number of motorcycles. The number of accidents involving motorcyclists grew by 25 percent per year over the last three years. This figure is much higher than the equivalent figure for cars. A total of 1,128 recorded fatalities resulted from traffic accidents in Jakarta in 2006, and 857 of those involved motorcycles. The primary causes of these accidents were reckless driving by motorcyclists, defective motorcycles and poor law enforcement.

In the next five to ten years, we will need to accommodate further growth in the number of motorcycles as we develop our public transportation system. We need to develop a metropolitan transportation system that recognizes motorcycles as one of the main transportation modes, along with automobiles and public transportation. The idea of banning motorcycles from main thoroughfares is not the right solution. It will not reduce the adverse effects of increasing numbers of motorcycles. Instead, it will only serve to relocate these effects. It will cost motorcyclists more to get to work and retard economic growth.

However, the setting aside of special lanes for motorcycles along designated roads in Jakarta is a good idea. It accommodates the rights of motorcyclists while providing safer road conditions for everyone in Jakarta.

Deden Rukmana, Ph.D, is an assistant professor of Urban Studies at Savannah State University in the U.S.

Jakarta going down drain

The recent floods have laid bare numerous problems in the planning and management of Jakarta, and hopefully also have taught us many lessons. One fact clearly worth recording is that Greater Jakarta lacks an adequate and proper drainage system.

Those drainage systems that do exist in both residential areas, including exclusive housing complexes, and public places are clearly not up to the task of channeling water during big storms.

Stroll along a major thoroughfare in any large city in Europe or the U.S., and you can see just how large and clean the underground drainage system is; large enough, in fact, for a person to walk through.

Jakarta, with a population of at least 10 million, does not have large, properly integrated drains. The result, as we have all seen this past week, is flooding.

The best drainage systems are said to be those around the Presidential Palace, including along Jl. Merdeka Utara, Jl. Majapahit, Jl. Veteran and Jl. Juanda, which were built during the Dutch colonial era. However, these areas were inundated when the city was flooded in 2002, because of the poor maintenance of connecting drains.

Though parts of the city flood whenever there is a major rainstorm, there has been no effort on the part of the administration or residents to fix Jakarta's drainage system.

The numerous wires and pipes criss-crossing the drains under the main thoroughfare of Jl. Thamrin have made them more vulnerable to clogs. This is just one example of the administration's lack of attention to the drainage system.

Given the many waterways and drains that become clogged during rainy days, it is clear the drainage systems in Jakarta's five mayoralties are poorly integrated. And now, with Jakarta practically a megacity, with areas of West Jakarta and Banten, integrated drainage systems are even more crucial.

However, it is doubtful that the administrations of Depok, Tangerang, Bogor and Bekasi consult the Jakarta administration on the issue of integrated drainage systems when they undertake big new projects, like the building of malls or housing complexes and industrial estates.

But Jakarta alone cannot create an integrated drainage system among it, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi (Jabodetabek). In a time when coordination has become a rarity in government, the Jakarta administration must work with neighboring administrations to deal with this issue.

For these administrations, it is clear that developers must be required to build proper drainage systems before new malls and housing complexes are built.

The next step would then be to ensure developers live up to this requirement, which is not often the case. Officials in charge of issuing permits to developers have been known to look the other way for a price. Clearly, the administration must improve its control system.

Another necessary step is involving the public in keeping drains and waterways clear. The most obvious area that needs addressing is to stop people from dumping garbage into waterways, clogging the city's sluice gates.

The city ordinance prohibiting people from littering has not worked, to say the least. Enforcement of the ordinance has been limp, with no one we have heard of ever being fined for littering.

With the worst of the floods having hopefully passed, the city administration must find a way to manage Jakarta's waterways.

A review of the existing drainage system is necessary, despite the fact that the project will be costly. Also, a law needs to be issued requiring developers to establish appropriate drainage systems before they are issued permits to build malls or housing and industrial complexes.

Residents who dump garbage into waterways must be punished, and each mayoralty must undertake regular controls on their drainage systems. Protecting Jakarta from flood will require an all-out national effort, and a proper drainage system is just one part of this effort.