Monday, June 06, 2005

Councillors OK water rate hike for BSD households

Source: The Jakarta Post

Multa Fidrus, The Jakarta Post, Tangerang

The Tangerang Regental Council endorsed on Friday a proposal by water company Tirta Kerta Raharja (TKR) to raise the water rates from Rp 1,800 per cubic meter to Rp 2,600 for residents at Bumi Serpong Damai (BSD) housing complex in Tangerang, West Java.

The endorsement, however, angered BSD residents who threatened to return to artesian wells and cut off their tap water supply.

Agus Nugraha, head of community unit 03, Lengkong Wetan village, BSD said on Saturday that some 700 residents had started digging wells after the council ignored their request to postpone the increase.

"The council and the tap water company cannot increase water rates without involving consumer representatives in the decision," he stressed.

Councilor Marlan Akip, who chaired a special committee for the water rate increase, said the hike for BSD residents was inevitable.

"The increase is expected to improve TKR's service and revenue since the company always suffers losses and moreover the water rates for BSD residents are the lowest (in the regency)," he said.

The Tangerang Water Company had already increased the rates in the regency from Rp 1,800 per cubic meter to Rp 2,600 in January. The increase, however, did not apply to BSD residents, who get water from the housing complex's developer.

The Tangerang Water Company supplied water to the developer at Rp 1,100 per cubic meter up until December 2004. Since January, however, the Tangerang Water Company has charged Rp 1,850 per cubic meter, forcing TKR to apply for an increase to the Tangerang Regental Council.

Five of the six factions in the regental council agreed to raise the water rates on Friday.

Public services manager of BSD City Donny Rahajoe said that it was understandable that BSD residents rejected the increase, but doubted that the residents would spend less if they used ground water.

"I think BSD residents should realize that they may have to spend more if they use ground water," he told The Jakarta Post.

He said that TKR supplied 200 liters of water per second to fulfill the needs of 11,000 BSD residents and that BSD management had disseminated information to residents about the plan to raise the rate since November.

Sukardi, chairman of the community units association in BSD city, said he would still ask the council to review its decision on the increase.

"The council should support the people's interests, not the company's," he said.