Kalimantan leaders to end coal blockade
Blackmail: Dozens of activists use boats to blockade coal shipments under the iconic Mahakam Bridge in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, on Wednesday.They said they would reopen the vital passage only if the central government increased fuel quotas for Kalimantan. Antara/AmirullahSeveral governors in Kalimantan say they will intervene to end blockades of coal shipments to Java after the government agreed to increase their subsidized-fuel quotas.
South Kalimantan Governor Rudy Ariffin said in Jakarta on Wednesday that the provincial administrations in Kalimantan would ask the organizers of the blockades to stand down.
“The central government has committed to fulfilling the needs of the people of Kalimantan,” Rudy told reporters after meeting Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik at the ministry in Jakarta on Wednesday.
Rudy was accompanied to the meeting by West Kalimantan Deputy Governor Christiandy Sanjaya, Central Kalimantan Deputy Governor Ahmad Diran and East Kalimantan City Development Planning Board (Bappeda) chief Rusmadi.
The three provinces are the nation’s main source of coal. East Kalimatan is also the nation’s largest source of oil and gas.
Also at the meeting were ministry oil and gas chief Evita Herawati Legowo, Pertamina president director Karen Agustiawan and downstream oil and gas authority BPHMigas head Andy Noorsaman Sommeng.
Jero told reporters after the meeting that the government would implement two policies to respond to the blockade.
“First, the government will fairly distribute the remaining 2.5 million kiloliters from the unused quota of subsidized fuel to all cities and regencies across the country,” he said.
This year’s subsidized fuel quota is 40 million kiloliters, of which 37.5 million kiloliters has been allotted to cities and regencies and 2.5 million kiloliters held in reserve.
The second policy, according to Jero, was for Pertamina to deliver non-subsidized fuel to areas with subsidized-fuel shortages.
Rudy said that the additional subsidized and non-subsidized fuel would be delivered starting this week.
“We don’t know the exact amount yet, but I believe that it will be enough until the central government proposes an increased subsidized-fuel quota to the House,” Rudy said.
Two weeks ago, representatives of Kalimantan’s regional administrations led by Rudy met lawmakers and demanded an increase in their allotment of subsidized fuels.
During a meeting with lawmakers on House of Representatives Commission VII overseeing energy, the local leaders demanded that this year’s quota be increased by 27.8 percent to 3.46 million kiloliters, up from 2.71 million kiloliters in the 2012 revised state budget.
Speaking on behalf of his peers, Rudy said the quota allotted to Kalimantan for subsidized fuels such as Premium, diesel and kerosene was “unfair”.
Rudy said that the quota for Kalimantan was 7 percent of the national quota of 40 million kiloliters, down from 7.19 percent last year, while other islands, excluding Java, generally were accorded increased allocations.
The government said that there was a possibility that the subsidized fuel quota for Kalimantan could not meet demand since a large percentage was used by trucks operated by coal mining and plantation companies. Subsidized fuel cannot be used for commercial purposes.
On Saturday, a group comprised of NGOs, local residents and students blocked Barito River in South Kalimantan to bar coal carriers from leaving the province because the central government refused to meet the demand.
A similar blockade was erected at Mahakam River in East Kalimantan on Wednesday.
Pertamina chief Karen said she previously asked Kalimantan businesses to build more fuel stations for non-subsidized fuels on the island and persuade Premium and diesel fuel agents to set up mini-stations.
BPHMigas’ Ibrahim Hasyim urged local administrations containing industrial, mining and plantations areas to issue regulations banning commercial vehicles from using subsidized fuel, among other things.
“Next step is for administrations to eradicate illegal resellers. For areas that have a limited amount of gas stations, the existence of resellers may be understandable, but we have to ensure that the distance is not too close to fuel stations,” he said in a text message.