Accidents expose lax safety hitting Indonesia’s infrastructure projects

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Accidents expose lax safety hitting Indonesia’s infrastructure projects

By Sarah Yuniarni in Jakarta

A recent string of accidents in major construction projects in Indonesia has raised concerns of lax safety standards as President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo pushes on with his ambitious infrastructure drive.

Last week, a retaining wall at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport near Jakarta collapsed and crushed a passing car, killing one man and injured another.

The wall was part of an airport train project completed only a few months ago by state-owned construction company Waskita Karya.

Prior to that, a total of 11 accidents were recorded at construction projects around the country managed by Waskita, Hutama Karya and Adhi Karya since August 2017, killing eight and injuring dozens of others.

Davy Sukamta, a structural engineering consultant, said managing too many projects could have strained the companies’ capabilities and exposed questionable work practices.

“Personally, I think [the accidents may have been caused by] bad work habits that have been going on [for years]. This makes it difficult for these companies to handle so many infrastructure projects,” Sukamta said.

Davy stopped short of saying contractors cut corners on construction materials, but did point out that many of them — especially smaller operators — lack skilled engineers and workers.

‘Lowest bids’
“The way the government conducts tenders for their projects [is also worrying]. They almost always pick a contractor that makes the lowest bid,” Sukamta said.

According to him, the Indonesian government should put contractors through a strict pre-qualification or pre-screening test. This will allow them to weed out low-skilled contractors from major construction projects.

The government should also conduct a thorough performance evaluation after each project is finished, which should allow them to earmark or ban underperforming contractors from future projects.

The incident at Soekarno-Hatta Airport forced the government to launch an investigation and raise safety standards in all its other infrastructure projects.

Transportation Ministry Secretary-General Sugihardjo said on February 4 that Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi had made an agreement with the Public Works and Housing Ministry to investigate the accident.

As part of the agreement, the airport train project will now be supervised by the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT).

Safety standards
The contractor for the project has already been told to replace facilities at the construction site that do not meet safety standards.

KNKT will also send a team to perform quality control at the site.

Waskita Karya’s corporate secretary Shastia Hadiarti said last Friday the accident at Soekarno-Hatta Airport has not significantly impacted the company’s business since Waskita still has numerous other projects going on.

Shastia said investigation into the tragedy is continuing and the result will be announced in March or April.

Reconstruction of the collapsed wall is expected to be completed in the next few days.

Waskita is waiting for a team of investigators to decide if the area is safe for cars or pedestrians to cross.

FIJI: Islands Business ex-publisher, director, journalist grilled over story

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: FIJI: Islands Business ex-publisher, director, journalist grilled over story

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Islands Business managing director Samisoni Pareti and journalist Nanise Volau have been questioned by Fiji police over a story published online by the Suva-based regional news magazine, IB reports.

This follows the article published by Islands Business about Magistrate Andrew See who ruled in favour of Air Terminal Services (ATS) workers locked out for more than a month over an airport industrial dispute.

The police questioning alert by IB on Facebook.

The police questioning alert by IB on Facebook.

Pareti and Volau are being questioned under Fiji’s Public Order Act.

Police “hope to lay charges of incitement”, IB reports on its Facebook page.

Former publisher Netani Rika who resigned in November to work full time for the church was questioned earlier today, the magazine said.Fiji goes to the polls in a general election later this year.

The controversial article:

CLOUD OVER MAGISTRATE IN ATS CASE

By Nanise Volau

AUTHORITIES are tight-lipped about the future of Magistrate Andrew See who presided over the dispute involving employees of Air Terminal Services.

Islands Business has been tipped off that Magistrate See’s contract has been terminated, three weeks after he ruled in favour of the employees.

Contacted in the Lautoka Magistrates Court a short time ago, Magistrate See, an Australian, declined to comment or answer any questions relating to his work.

He referred us instead to Chief Registrar Yohan Liyange in Suva.

Said Mr Liyanage: “This is news to me and I am not aware of any changes, but if you call me on Monday, I can give you an updated record.”

Sources however in Lautoka, where Magistrate See is based and in Suva, say the Australian Tribunal’s contract has not been renewed.

In his landmark decision on 20 January, Magistrate See ordered that the 225 workers of ATS be returned to work in accordance with the terms of their employment contract, and on a case-by-case basis, that ATS should ensure that the pay and entitlements of each employee were reviewed and, where necessary, reinstated,

See is a Brisbane-based lawyer and industrial relations consultant. He specialises in all aspects of workplace relations, including human resource management, industrial relations, workplace health and safety and discrimination.

He was appointed in 2011 as an ad hoc  Resident Magistrate in Fiji, where he sits on the Employment Relations Tribunal, the Tax Tribunal, the Customs Act Court of Review and the Judicial Services Commission Disciplinary Tribunal (non-judicial staff).

Yogyakarta airport developers warned not to ‘steal’ people’s land

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Yogyakarta airport developers warned not to ‘steal’ people’s land

A police officer looks on as workers of state-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I bulldoze a building in the vicinity of Glagah village to make room for the New Yogyakarta International Airport (NYIA) in Kulonprogro, Yogyakarta on Friday. Image: Bambang Muryanto/The Jakarta Post

By Bambang Muryanto in Yogyakarta

Indonesia’s National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has demanded that state-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I consider human rights aspects while working on the construction of a new airport in Kulonprogo, Yogyakarta.

The project should be free from human rights breaches, in particular when it comes to land ownership, the organisation said.

“Please, do not steal the citizen’s lands in the name of infrastructure development,” said Komnas HAM commissioner Choirul Anam.

READ MORE: Students reject new Yogyakarta airport, condemn forced evictions

Choirul added that he had received reports from local activists claiming that people of Glagah village were being forced by the company and police to give up their land.

Thirty of some 2700 families living on the disputed land reportedly insist on staying in their homes. Choirul suggested the company engage in dialogue with the people to find a solution.

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“This is not only about land ownership; the eviction also threatens the people’s culture and social wellbeing,” he said, noting that violence could create even more problems.

Meanwhile, PT Angkasa Pura, through the manager of the New Yogyakarta International Airport (NYIA) construction project, Sudjiastono, claimed it had done everything in line with the law on land procurement for public utilities construction.

According to the regulation, he added, the company was allowed to forcibly evict people who refused to give up their land in return for compensation through the court.

“We’ve respected the people’s rights by giving them compensation, more than they deserve to get,” he said.

Bambang Muryanto is Yogyakarta correspondent of The Jakarta Post.

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Students reject new Yogyakarta airport, condemn forced evictions

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Students reject new Yogyakarta airport, condemn forced evictions

Students protest over the new Yogyakarta airport and forced evictions. Image: Detik.com News

By Ristu Hanafi in Yogyakarta

Protesters and students from Indonesia’s Alliance against the Kulon Progo Airport have again demonstrated in front of the PT Angkasa Pura (API) offices in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta.

The action was marred by scuffles between protesters and security personnel and the blockading of the road in front of API.

The demonstration began at the weekend. The protesters took turns in giving speeches opposing the construction of the New Yogyakarta International Airport (NYIA) in Kulon Progo regency.

Although the demonstration initially proceeded without incident, it was suddenly marred by a scuffle between the protesters and API Yogyakarta security personnel.

As a result, the front gate to the API office was damaged.

The demonstrators then blockaded a length of the road in the direction of Solo-Yogya. Not surprisingly, there was a long traffic jam on the length of road alongside the Adisutjipto International Airport which is located not far from the demonstration.

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The demonstrators were still blockading the road and giving speeches in the middle of the street when Detik News published this story.

The blockade is located on the length of road in front of the PT API office on Jl. Raya Solo Km 9. As a result the flow of traffic from the east towards Yogyakarta city was brought to a standstill.

Security personnel from AP I, the police and the TNI (Indonesian military) could be seen guarding the rally.

“We are protesting in solidarity with the residents of Temon sub-district, Kulon Progo, who are being impacted on by the airport project. Reject the NYIA project and stop the forced eviction of Kulon Progo residents”, said action coordinator. (sip/sip)

Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was “Demo Tolak Bandara Kulon Progo, Mahasiswa Orasi dan Blokir Jalan”.

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Indonesia’s development dilemmas – a green info gap and budget pressure

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Indonesia’s development dilemmas – a green info gap and budget pressure

Crucial to how Indonesia’s news outlets cover the environment – and its destruction – is the ownership and vested interests of the media landscape.  Video: Al Jazeera

ANALYSIS: By David Robie in Yogyakarta

In May, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo of Indonesia raised eyebrows across the archipelago when he inspected the Trans-Papua highway while trail blazing with a motorbike.

Tempo magazine, Indonesia’s most authoritative news magazine, remarked that he did this while “wearing only a thick jacket without a bullet proof vest”. Mentioning this lack of a flack jacket was tacit acknowledgement of the uncertain situation given an exponential rise of pro-independence sentiment in Indonesia’s two most eastern-most provinces of Papua and West Papua.

But Jokowi’s unconventional style of launching infrastructure projects didn’t just end there. Earlier this month he cruised along in a four-wheel drive vehicle on the recently completed Becakayu toll road, which had been languishing uncompleted for 18 years until his presidency gave the project a hurry up.

Last month, while giving a speech at Diponegoro University’s 60th Dies Natalis in Semarang, Central Java, Jokowi declared that infrastructure development was vitally important for the future in Indonesia. He wanted the country to become more competitive than its neighbours, such as Malaysia and Singapore.

President Jokowi Widodo checking out progress on the Trans-Papua Highway in May. Image: Repub of Indonesia

“Why is our infrastructure being built?,” he asked rhetorically about the rapid pace and emphasis that he and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla have given the strategy – a marked contrast with other presidencies.

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“The answer is that we want our competiveness to be better than other countries. Our global competiveness must be improved,” he said. “This year is pretty good as we have soared from 41st to 36th among 137 countries.”

Tempo magazine: Infrastructure projects: Devil in the details.

The latest edition of Tempo magazine has devoted 38 pages to its cover story on infrastructure projects, headlining the fairly comprehensive report “Devil in the details”.

Few environmental reports
But absent from the range of quality articles was any serious report on the state of the environment in Indonesia — or environmental journalism, given that 2000 of the country’s 17,000 islands and 42 million households in a population of 261 million are at risk of “drowning” by 2050, according to a Listening Post report on Al Jazeera last month.

As Al Jazeera reported, “when you look at the [Indonesian] mainstream media, it is hard to find stories that go beyond catastrophes like forest fires or mudslides, examining who and what is behind them.”

A leading environmental journalism advocate has blamed lack of climate change and environmental reporting skills in Indonesian newsrooms for the lack of coverage.

“It is easier for journalists to cover sports or the economy, because they have scores and numbers,” Harry Surjadi, head of the Indonesian Society of Environmental Journalists, told Listening Post. “Those stories are much easier to write than environmental stories, where journalists have to understand biology, ecology, waste and chemistry.”

Nevertheless, Jokowi was praised by The Jakarta Post in a recent editorial for both his development policies and his concern for the poor of the country with his popularity  climbing.

“His overwhelming attention to the basic needs of the people has made him rather obsessive with the objective of keeping the prices of food and other basic necessities stable, thereby keeping inflation below 4 percent,” the Post noted.

However, in its special development edition, Tempo said in an editorial that the Widodo administration was “racing against time” after three years in government to complete its raft of planned infrastructure projects costing an estimated RP4,197 trillion (NZ$415 billion) between 2014 and 2019.

Many ambitious projects with an emphasis on developing the regions, especially eastern Indonesia — including Papua, are being worked on at the same time.

Projects’ sustainability
“All these activities spark public excitement, but also raise questions about the projects’ sustainability,” the magazine said.

“Jokowi’s choice to develop infrastructure is certainly not misplaced. Several studies show that infrastructure development in Indonesia was relatively backward in comparison with neighbours. Even worse: previous administrations spent more on fuel subsidies compared to physical construction,” Tempo commented.

In his Semarang speech, Jokowi said: “Why must we build? Because our country is an archipelago state, the marine foundation base is a must. Airport development was equally important as many islands could not be serviced by ship.

“So, on the remote islands of Natuna, Miangas, we are building an airport. This is just one example because we are building lots of small airports,” Jokowi added.

Tempo seemed to agree with this view by stating in its editorial: “In order to reach a healthy and growing economy, Indonesia needs new roads, bridges, power stations, airports and ports. This in turn requires massive funding.”

Some 42 percent of the required funding — the budget from the 2017 year has been almost tripled from RP177 trillion in Jokowi’s first year in office in 2014 to RP 4011 trillion this year — depends on allocations from the state budget, the magazine noted, plus money from state-owned businesses and private partnerships.

Tempo praised Jokowi for cutting back on energy subsidies, saying this was the right move to make – especially over fuel costs.

Sounding a warning
While also complimenting Jokowi on the boost for several jumbo projects that had stalled in recent years to ensure they get completed, Tempo also sounded a warning.

“Jokowi is racing against time. Infrastructure construction generally takes a while, and its economic benefits are only felt three to five years after construction begins: a time span which does not align with our five-year political cycle,” the magazine said.

“The government should avoid giving the impression that it is impatient to reap its rewards from the projects, especially once the cycle of political succession comes around. Good governance must not be abused for the sake of earning points for the next general elections [in 2019].”

Infrastructure development in Indonesia is a “matter of equality and justice” across the nation, says President Widodo. Image: Al Jazeera

Infrastructure highlights:

National: RP1,320 trillion (two programmes and 12 projects).

Bali and Nus Tenggara: RP11 trillion (15 projects, including the North Timor border crossing and supporting facilities).

Java Island: RP1,065 trillion (903 projects, including the 81km Serang-Panimbang toll road, MRT underground in Jakarta and public trains/railway).

Kalimantan: RP564 trillion (24 projects, including border crossings and facilities and the Serang-Balikpapan-Samarinda toll road).

Maluku and Papua: RP444 trillion (13 projects, including development of the Tangguh Train 3 LNG plant and the Palapa ring broadband).

Sulawesi: RP155 trillion (27 projects, including the Manado-Bitung toll road).

Sumatra: RP638 trillion (61 projects, including five sections of the Trans-Sumatra toll road).

The Jakarta MRT … among the infrastructure projects. Image: Repub of Indonesia

According to a breakdown chart published by Tempo, partnerships with private companies would provide more than half the projected budget – 57.5 percent, with SOEs providing 30 percent and the balance of 12.5 percent from the state budget.

In a four-page interview with the magazine, Jokowi said that after touring across the country, from Sabang to Merauke, “I saw for myself how grave the inequality was”, and he was convinced that an expanded infrastructure would help reduce the gap.

“This is a matter of equality and justice. Besides, our infrastructure development has lagged far behind our neighbours,” he said.

“Infrastructure is a foundation for tackling the problem of inequality. If we want it easy, we just have to allocate the budget for subsidies and increased social assistance, so purchasing power will increase and the public is happy.

“But do we want to continue this kind of strategy? I took the risk by not resorting to this kind of political move, and instead diverted resources to infrastructure development.”

Yet surprisingly nothing in this otherwise comprehensive report addressed climate change and environmental issues, a critical component of sustainable development in Indonesia.

Devastating forest fires in Indonesia in 2015 were caused by a massive burn-off for palm oil plantations. Image: Al Jazeera

Forest fire devastation
Al Jazeera’s Listening Post report stressed how in 2015 huge fires swept through Indonesia’s rainforests. About 2.6 million hectares of forest was set ablaze to make way for palm oil plantations.

“The fires produced – in just three weeks – more greenhouse gases than Germany does in an entire year,” Listening Post said.

“Forest fires have become an annual occurrence in Indonesia, and still, the country’s media seldom devote the column centimetres and airtime needed to explore the causes behind them.”

Merah Ismail, campaign manager for the mining advocacy network JATAM, was quoted as saying: “When [the media] do cover forest fires or the effects of mining, they leave out “subjects like ‘water poisoned due to toxic waste or air pollution’ because they don’t know enough about those subjects”.

While Jokowi had announced in September 2015 that Indonesia would cut the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 29 percent by 2030, the nation’s news media have reported little on the progress, or lack of it, over this pledge — even with global debate on climate change at COP23 ongoing in Bonn this month.

With little media exposure or debate, the issue of the future of the rainforests has been framed as a tough choice – between the economy and the environment.

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