Have you inspected your home’s electrical wiring?
Paper Edition | Page: 9
Zaenudin, who has been living in Kebon Jeruk, West Jakarta, for about 17 years, thought that he had done everything to keep the house that he built from his own savings safe from the threat of fire.
“I remember I went to PLN [state owned electricity company] bringing Rp 1.2 million [US$120.35] to get an electricity connection back in 1995,” the 40-year-old motorcycle taxi driver told The Jakarta Post recently.
He claimed that he had a certificate of compliance from an institution tasked with inspecting electrical installation, and bought quality electrical hardware, though it was more expensive. But he said that recently, he began facing problems with the electricity connection.
Zaenudin was not aware that after 15 years, he should have his home’s electrical installation inspected again, as it is likely the cables might have loosened or split from aging. He admitted that since 1995, he had only talked with PLN officials when he paid the bill.
Such an attitude is what officials consider dangerous, as it could lead to fires. Ignorance and negligence on the part of the public is believed to have contributed significantly to the spike in fire incidents in the capital recently, PLN Jakarta spokesman Irwan Darwin said.
Data from the Jakarta Police shows that 35 out of 66 blazes that occurred between July 21 and Aug. 21 were caused by electrical glitches, while data released by the fire agency shows that out of 651 fires that occurred between January and August, 435 were also caused by electrical problems.
The rampant fires that have been engulfing Jakarta lately, according to Irwan, were mostly caused by improper electrical installations and electricity theft. Customers, he said, tended to use low-quality materials for their electrical installation and skipped the National Committee for Safe Electrical Installation (Konsuil) inspection and certification to save money. “Once the electricity is connected, consumers often take it for granted. They don’t check and renew their installations,” he said.
Sugiyanto, 52, an electrician working for a contractor company, said that most of his customers did not understand the proper procedure of establishing a new electricity connection. “My customers often push me to connect the electricity to their houses once PLN instals the house with electric meters. They don’t know what Konsuil is, and even if they do, they are not willing to wait longer for their houses to be inspected,” he said.
Under a 2003 regulation from the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, Konsuil is required to inspect buildings’ electricity installations — to make sure the designs and the materials are according to standard — before PLN supplies the buildings with power. A connection not being preceded by Konsuil’s inspection is violating the 2009 Law on Electricity, which carries a punishment of five years’ imprisonment and a Rp 500 million fine. It takes three days and maximum Rp 95,000 for Konsuil’s inspection and certification.
Consumers are also unruly in making use of the electricity provided to them.
Andri, 40, an electronic goods shop owner on Jl. Palmerah, West Jakarta, said that customers in his shop were often searching for the cheapest goods and foresaking quality. “For example, when buying extension cords, they ask for the cheapest outlets with longest cables and most connections possible. They don’t care whether the cables can endure the power and the heat or not.”
Indonesian Consumer Protection Foundation (YLKI) official Tulus Abadi said it was only natural for consumers to resort to the cheapest and fastest way of obtaining something. The root of the problem, he said, was the lack of regulation and law enforcement available to curb customers’ unruly behavior.
Moreover, Tulus said, PLN’s loose rules — such as providing electricity meters before the houses’ electricity installations were certified as safe by Konsuil — had encouraged consumers’ disobedience, which could later lead to dangerous situations.
“The government should make stricter regulations and PLN should educate their customers. People keep buying non-standard cables or stealing electricity, as there are either no rules or clear penalties to stop it,” he said. (aml)