Saturday, March 19, 2005

Council makes a stink about septic tank deal with Malaysian firm

Source: The Jakarta Post

Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post/Jakarta

The City Council's commission D on development affairs has sharply criticized city-owned sewerage company PD PAL Jaya for entering into an agreement with Malaysian firm Pembinaan Jayabumi (PJS) for a sewage management project without obtaining the council's consent.

"PD PAL failed to notify us of the joint venture deal, despite the fact that the venture will certainly have a great effect on all Jakarta residents," the commission's deputy chairman Muhayar Rustamuddin said in a hearing with PD PAL Jaya's board of directors.

"What we fear is that the joint venture gives no advantage at all in terms of sewage treatment technology, as has previously happened with a similar sewage project in Setiabudi, South Jakarta," said Muhayar of the Prosperous Justice Party.

The Setiabudi sewage plant that was built in 1986 by the Ministry of Public Works in cooperation with the World Bank failed to treat raw sewage properly, with most of it running untreated into the West Flood Canal in front of the plant.

Similarly, commission chairman Sayogo Hendrosubroto also questioned the reasons behind the decision to adopt Malaysian septic tank technology and involve a Malaysian firm in such a large scale project affecting all Jakarta residents.

"It's simply humiliating. Don't we have simple septic tank technology here? Why do we need to import it from Malaysia, which of course, will be much more expensive than similar technology made by Indonesian experts?" Sayogo queried.

The Jakarta administration has decided to require that all residents wanting to build new houses equip them with the Malaysian designed septic tanks. It was claimed that the new septic tanks would help curb contamination of groundwaters and rivers with untreated waste, as currently happens using conventional septic tank systems.

The City Environmental Management Agency (BPLHD) has said that it was urgent that city residents install better septic tanks given reports of high levels of Escherichia coli bacteria in all of the city's 13 rivers.

The bacteria comes from human feces and can cause diarrheal diseases, and has now contaminated 80 percent of shallow groundwater wells in the city.

PD PAL Jaya and PJS have established a joint venture company, called PT Jayabumi Utama, to manufacture 4,000 units of the tanks for households this year.

The tanks will be sold for between Rp 4 million and Rp 5 million each, depending on size.

PAL Jaya president director Pudjo Prihadi Santoso said that the administration would take a 20 percent equity share in the project totaling about $1 million.