Kelud causes billions in losses
Wahyoe Boediwardhana and Indra Harsaputra
The Jakarta Post
Last Thursday's eruption of Mount Kelud in Kediri, East Java, has inflicted tremendous financial losses in the aviation, manufacturing and farming sectors.
'Operations at Surabaya, Solo [Surakarta], Yogyakarta and Semarang airports completely stopped, so of course there are losses that we have to deal with to normalize the situation,' the head of corporate communications at state-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura (AP) I, Handy Heryudhityawan, said on Saturday.
Although Handy did not reveal the extent of AP I's losses, he said they would be 'significant'.
Separately, Trikora Harjo, general manager of PT AP I Juanda, said on Saturday that the airport, located in Surabaya, had suffered losses of around Rp 3 billion (US$250,000) due to the airport's two-day closure.
Juanda had to cancel 386 flights, stranding about 50,000 passengers, during the closure.
Juanda airport and Semarang's Ahmad Yani International Airport resumed operations on Saturday, while Bandung's Hussein Sastranegara airport reopened on Sunday.
However, Yogyakarta's Adisucipto International Airport and Surakarta's Adi Sumarmo International Airport, which were the most affected by volcanic ash, have yet to reopen.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Sunday that the response to the Mt. Kelud eruption had been well-handled.
He said local administrations affected by the eruption had taken the proper steps.
'The public has cooperated well, so the impact from the Mt. Kelud ash is not expected to endanger health. I hope conditions will return to normal very soon,' he said.
Yudhoyono was speaking at the Balapan Solo train station in Surakarta, Central Java, en route to visit Kediri, Blitar and Malang regencies in East Java.
The President and First Lady Ani Yudhoyono chatted with passengers at the station for about 10 minutes before resuming their trip to Kediri.
The aftermath of the eruption, which showered East Java with thick clouds of volcanic ash, has also burdened businesses with distribution problems.
East Java is home to several industrial estates, including Rungkut and Gresik, which are home to factories belonging to some of Indonesia's larger companies. However, despite the eruption, some companies claim their production has not been negatively affected.
PT Unilever Indonesia spokesperson Sancoyo Antarikso said that although its production at the Rungkut estate had not suffered any major disruption by the ash, its distribution had been interrupted as several affected areas remained inaccessible.
Contacted separately, PT Semen Indonesia corporate secretary Agung Wiharto said that production at its Tuban plant in East Java, located more than 150 kilometers north of Mt. Kelud, had not been affected. Production at its plant on the Gresik estate, however, which lies closer to the volcano, had been heavily hit by the eruption.
The agricultural sector, especially dairy farming, was similarly hit hard by the eruption.
Chairman of the East Java branch of the Association of Indonesia Milk Processing Cooperatives (GSKI), Sulistyanto, claimed the eruption had caused losses of hundreds of billions of rupiah.
'The eruption has caused a serious decrease in milk production,' Sulistyanto said on Sunday.
Separately, Nur Shilla Christianto, head of corporate communications at PT NestlÃ© Indonesia, said several of its fresh milk suppliers in East Java had been severely impacted by the Mt. Kelud eruption.
'In collaboration with local government administrations and dairy cooperatives, our focus since Thursday has been to provide whatever assistance we can to dairy farmers and their families, by providing them with food and beverages as well as animal fodder to enable them to feed their cattle,' Nur Shilla told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.
Batu Mayor Eddy Rumpoko said on Sunday that he estimated the eruption had caused losses of up to Rp 17.8 billion, as apple harvests had been destroyed.
'This figure excludes losses suffered by paddy farmers,' he added.(dwa)
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