JAKARTA: Indonesia's economic structure is remarkably sturdy as it has weathered the global slump of 2008/09 surprisingly well. Over the past decade, growth figures were above 4.6 percent and, unlike many of its neighbours, it has been in a relatively stable political condition during this period. The country's chronic infrastructure woes, however, could jeopardize the sustainability of this growth.
Traffic jams due to a fourishing automotive sales (1.2 million units; 2013) and limited development of new roads are causing losses on a large scale. The Indonesia railway has yet to live up to its role as the backbone of the country's transportation system.
During this opportune era of nation building the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises (BUMN) gave the task to revamp PT KAI to Ignasius Jonan who, since appointment in 2009, has undertaken every major decision for the sake of making PT KAI a customer-focused & service-oriented company, as all public service companies should be.
"As a mode of transportation for both passengers and cargo, the position of the railway is becoming increasingly important, particularly on an island as densely populated as Java. Comparing our situation to California, which has only 55-60 million inhabitants, Java on the other hand has 120 million. Revamping efforts became crucial, or else our logistics costs would be disrupted. We wouldn't use air transport to travel from Cirebon to Tegal, or to reach the regency of Pekalongan, for example, because there simply is no airline service to reach these regions," Jonan pointed out.
Considering the chronic financial problems PT KAI found itself in 2008, most capable CEO's would have shun away from such an appointment. Jonan was considered the right man for the job, perhaps because he had a proven track record for getting companies into a positive direction: From 1989-1990 he turn around the tax consulting division of Arthur Andersen in the firm's Surabaya office, from 2001-2006 he turned around Bahana Pembinaan Usaha Indonesia. Then he re-established the investment banking business for Citigroup in Indonesia from 2006-2008.
Jonan aims to do more than put PT KAI on track. He is working on 2 goals targets. Most urgent is the constructing of the 12,3 km double track Batuceper-Soetta Airport service for which reportedly Rp 1.78 billion in PT KAI's funds have been allocated in partnership with PT AP II.
Another goal, Jonan is chasing to increase ridership to 1,2 million/day by 2018 from its current passenger ridership of approximately 600.000/day. Jonan is a person who gets rid of the strong current of “Asal Bapak Senang” Indonesian business culture existing in PT KAI, and he brings energy to decrease administrative bottlenecks.
Jonan, known as stern and straightforward in moving corporate agenda forward, seemed as the leader to deal with the chronic problems at PT KAI. Rejecting a proposed solution to block inter-Java trains from entering Jakarta at certain times, Jonan said “It’s not going to happened. You cannot manipulate traffic like that as these sorts of things were the ones leading to create accidents in the past”.
A commuter line train ticket is currently sold for Rp 5.000 per passenger. “The Indonesians middle class are quite egoistical. If the train is packed, they complain, even though the ticket price is very very inexpensive. And the reason for the low price is to achieve good affordability,” Jonan explained.
On being asked about his decision to combine the economy AC, and business classes into a single class Jonan responded. “The decision was based on the consideration that everywhere in the world a public service that is considered as a basic necessity cannot be differentiated by class,” Jonan said.
The major challenge according to Jonan in achieving the improvements he has set for the Indonesian railway is consistency. “And to foster a culture of consistency we need to use the appropriate ‘stick & carrot’”.
Information technology was another area Jonan emphasized to solve the hassles that had become a tradition in the Indonesia Railways System. The Rail Ticketing System (RTS) introduce in the past three years was consideres ceucial ini improving the service rendered to train riders. The system forced all employees to play by the rules of the organization, eliminating the opportunitu to engage in corruption related activities.
Moreover, IT was also a significant help loss in the middle man or pander ticketing sales. The implementation of the one seat one passenger principle, with the requirement of having the identical name on the ID card and the ticket.
It has also contributed in easing the process of obtaining tickets. Today, train tickets can be purchased at mini markets as well as at the post office, on the website www.kereta-api.co.id. PT KAI was listed as a finalist among the five awardees for IT innovation during the Teknologi Informasi Excellence Award 2012 Asia Pasifik in August 2012.
A wind of change appears to be blowing through the PT KAI. The public, as well as several statesmen have expressed its appreciation for the positive change with PT KAI, particularly in how the organization has dealt with the massive annual exodus that occurs on Idul Fitri. It is hoped that further progress and development will be seen from the railway.
Source : Sorotan Magazine, VOL.XXIII/2/2014, Thursday, 16.07.14.