President Jokowi demands answers after massive Java island blackout

President Jokowi demands answers after massive Java island blackout

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo
Indonesia's President Joko Widodo. (File photo: Reuters/Willy Kurniawan)

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Monday (Aug 5) took state-owned utility company Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) to task for not acting quickly to resolve a massive blackout that affected the greater Jakarta area a day earlier.

Speaking during a visit to PLN’s head office, the president said: “There should be a contingency plan. My question is why PLN did not work fast.

“I know a blackout occurred in Java and Bali 17 years ago; it should have been a lesson on how to prevent a recurrence of this type of incident," he was quoted as saying by Jakarta Globe.

He added: "We know this not only damaged PLN's reputation, but many things outside PLN were also harmed."

In response, PLN’s acting president director Sripeni Inten was quoted as saying by Jakarta Post: “I’m sorry … The process is slow, we admit it.

“We need to be extra careful during times of emergency. Everything is down, so we need to turn it back on one by one carefully and with caution,” she explained.

READ: Tens of millions hit by Indonesia power blackout

“We admit that in the process there were some actionable items that could have been done quicker to bring power back to normal.”

Tens of millions of people were affected by the Sunday blackout which plunged buildings in the sprawling capital - home to about 30 million people - into darkness and forced the temporary closure of its new Mass Rapid Transit system.

Passengers were safely evacuated from several MRT carriages when the power went out, according to the system's operator, while commuter trains were also affected.

Jakarta traffic blackout
Transport officers guide traffic after traffic lights stopped working due to an electricity outage in Jakarta on August 4, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Adek Berry)  

Outages also turned off some traffic lights, aggravating the capital's notorious congestion.

Electricity was restored by around 11pm local time in most parts of the capital, nearly 12 hours after disruptions started. While the megacity has been hit by blackouts before, Sunday's shutdown was unusually long.

READ: Jakartans reel from services disruption, traffic gridlock amid massive Java island blackout

PLN said the massive outage happened when a gas turbine at a major power plant went down. There was also a disruption at another facility. Both are on the western end of Java, Indonesia’s most populous island.

The utility company has rejected suggestions that the blackout was an act of sabotage, noting that the problem was caused purely by technical issues.

UTILITY COMPANY TO COMPENSATE ALL AFFECTED

A report by news site Tempo, citing PLN’s second director of strategic procurement Djoko Raharjo Abumanan, said all 21.3 million affected customers will be compensated in the form of discounts.

The amount of compensation, he said, will be calculated directly by PLN.

"We are asking to speak with the shareholders. We are asked by Energy Minister Ignasius Jonan to arrange (the compensation) … But we need permission from shareholders," Mr Abumanan said on Monday.

PLN has 71 million customers, meaning that those affected by the blackout accounted for around 30 per cent of all customers in Indonesia.

Source: CNA/AFP/aw

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