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Jakarta Post

Power shortage angers residents

  • Apriadi Gunawan and Suherdjoko

    The Jakarta Post

Medan/Jepara   /   Wed, February 26, 2014   /  10:17 am

Rolling blackouts imposed by state power firm PT PLN in Medan, North Sumatra, over the past month have increased in frequency to the annoyance of many residents, whose daily activities have been disrupted.

Taking place three times a day, the blackouts have also contributed to the rising number of fires in
the city.

As many as three houses in Medan were completely razed by fire on Tuesday during a blackout at 5:30 a.m. The fire was believed to have been caused by a burning candle in a house. Many residents have been relying on candles due to the frequent blackouts.

A neighborhood head, Idris, said blackouts had been taking place in his area since early February. '€œThe duration of the blackouts are always uncertain, the shortest are usually between two and four hours,'€
Idris said.

A Tanjung Sari resident in Medan, Damayanti Siregar, also complained of the same problem. The mother of three said it was difficult to finish her household chores due to the blackouts, adding that the power outages would take place three times a day.

'€œMany of my electrical appliances have been damaged due to the blackouts,'€ said Damayanti.

Consumer Protection and Advocacy Institute director Farid Wajdi said that PLN had been imposing the rotating blackouts for almost seven months. Power supplies were normal for a month, said Farid, but in early February, PLN began imposing the rolling blackouts again.

Farid said that PLN top officials had to quickly resolve the power
crisis in the province.

When asked about the blackouts, North Sumatra PLN human relations and legal affairs deputy manager Raidir Sigalingging said that PLN had yet confirm when power supplies would return to normal.

'€Although we cannot make any promises, PLN has targeted the end of the month or early March,'€
Raidir said.

Meanwhile, in Jepara regency, Central Java, power for 10,250 residents in the Karimunjawa Island chain has been cut by 50 percent due to the high cost of non-subsidized diesel fuel.

From the usual 12-hour (6 p.m. to 6 a.m.) power supply on Karimunjawa Island, the islanders are now only being provided with six hours of power (6 p.m. to 12 a.m.) as of Feb. 18, while those living on other small islands, such as Genting, Parang, Nyamuk, Kemujan and Menyawakan, are only supplied with three hours of electricity
(6 p.m. to 9 p.m.).

The price of non-subsidized diesel has increased from Rp 11,000 (90 US cents) to Rp 14,700 per liter, compared to the subsidized diesel price of Rp 5,500 per liter.

'€œWe'€™re shocked. Everyone has voiced their protests, especially hotel owners, as they now have to buy gasoline to operate their power generators so guests can stay comfortably,'€ Karimunjawa homestay owner Arief Rahman said.

Karimunjawa, which is one of Central Java'€™s primary tourist destinations, is located around 120 km north of Semarang, or around 78 km northwest of the Jepara Sea. It is home to 70 homestays and 12 hotels.

It is blessed with pristine, white sandy beaches and beautiful coral reefs. Many tourists visit the area to snorkel and dive.

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