Headlines

Hospitals unprepared for
blackouts

Hospitals and the Indonesian Red Cross in Bandung said power cuts disrupted operations and that they were not given sufficient warning.

The staff were not prepared for the five-hour power cuts which were implemented twice this week, Hasan Sadikin Hospital director Cissy Rachiana Prawira said. With 700 beds, the facility is West Java's largest hospital.

"Generators can't be switched on in an instant -- it needs preparation and we need to decide which areas get priority," she said on Saturday.

"What if we had a power cut in the middle of a surgical operation," Cissy said, adding that it could be fatal.

Red Cross (PMI) spokeswoman **** who? **** said the power cuts lasted more than five hours on two occasions this week, and were the worst in recent history.

Nurul Hayati *** was this the spokeswoman? *** said that the center*** what center? *** on Jl. Aceh was forced to rent generators for eight hours.

"We have three cool rooms which prevent clotting and damage to thousands of containers of blood, but our generator can only power one cool room," she said.

Bandung is one of many areas hit by an increasing number of power cuts over the last few years. The government announced that the Java-Bali power grid, with a capacity of 15,000 megawatts, falls short of the area's required 16,251 MW, at peak times.

Communications officer for PLN's West Java-Banten distribution office, Sumarsono, said the power deficit reached 800 MW in the afternoon, adding that blackouts would continue if consumers did not help PLN by reducing their energy consumption.

"We have asked consumers, mainly in the business sector, to reduce their consumption by at least 50 watts a day. The effect is beginning to show, although it's still insignificant," Sumarsono said.

This week, a delay in fuel supply from state oil and gas company PT Pertamina also led to a halt of operations at three power plants in Jakarta, Semarang and Gresik.

The spokeswoman of the Bandung chapter of state electricity firm PLN said seven-hour blackouts were conducted in the West Java capital from 7 a.m. in the industrial and residential areas around East Bandung. After 2 p.m. consumers in Central and South Bandung were also subjected to blackouts.

The provincial chapter of the Indonesian Employers' Association (Apindo) said losses had amounted to some Rp 50 billion a day over the last 10 days.

"We will eventually lose overseas investors," he said, adding that many of the chapter's 1,800 members had failed to meet export targets.

Apindo is demanding that PLN provide discounts, as regulated in a 2003 decree -- or compensate losses. The decree states that PLN is to cut 10 percent off bills from the following month in the event of blackouts lasting more than four hours.

Semarang Consumer Protection Institute director Ngargono said, however, it would be difficult for consumers to sue PLN unless there were three power cuts a day, in line with regulations.

"What occurred this week was only one power cut a day," he said.

PLN's communication officer for Central Java and Yogyakarta, Sri Nugroho A. Wibowo, said power cuts are likely to continue in areas surrounding the Central Java capital, Semarang *** why bold?***.

Apart from the delayed arrival of diesel fuel, damaged equipment would also disrupt power supply, leading to a deficit of 750 MW in an area of some 7 million consumers, he said.

"We have no choice. We apologize to consumers, he said, adding that the local services office would be notified immediately prior to the blackouts.

"It's useless to protest against PLN, they don't respond," said Hanif, a resident.

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