Power fully restored in Indonesia's capital after Sunday's massive blackout

The blackout caused chaos in the streets of Jakarta and West Java's provincial capital of Bandung, paralysing traffic lights and public transport, as well as cellphone and banking services.
The blackout caused chaos in the streets of Jakarta and West Java's provincial capital of Bandung, paralysing traffic lights and public transport, as well as cellphone and banking services.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - The power system in Jakarta and neighbouring provinces has been fully restored after a major blackout on Sunday (Aug 4) that lasted more than eight hours, state-owned electricity company PLN said on Tuesday.

The company managed to normalise its operation in the capital, Banten and West Java on Monday evening, it said in a statement.

"Alhamdulillah (thanks be to God) the entire system has returned to normal again and we will maintain its stability," PLN acting president director Sripeni Inten Cahyani said in a statement.

The Sunday blackout, which had been the worst power outage to hit South-east Asia's largest economy since 2008, caused chaos in the streets of Jakarta and West Java's provincial capital of Bandung, paralysing traffic lights and public transport, as well as cellphone and banking services. Many travellers were also stranded at train stations.

As the power system could not fully recover on Monday, alternate blackouts also occurred across Jakarta and Bandung.

President Joko Widodo on his visit to PLN headquarters on Monday chastised the company for the major incident, urging it to fix the problem as soon as possible.

Business activities returned to normal on Tuesday, with several banks, including Indonesia's largest private lender BCA, stating that all their ATMs and others services are back in operation.

The Sunday blackout severely hurt both small enterprises and big companies, which experienced various disruptions in their operation, and business groups urged the PLN to provide compensation for customers.

Mr Sarman Simanjorang, deputy chairman of the Jakarta chapter of Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, estimated that in Jakarta alone, the losses borne by business players reached trillions of rupiah.

Earlier, the Indonesian Retailers Association estimated the blackout, which impacted 82 shopping centres and more than 2,500 stores, could cause 200 billion rupiah (S$19.3 million) in losses.

 
 

"The duration of the outage, which was between eight and 10 hours, was quite long. Almost all business sectors were affected," Mr Sarman told The Straits Times.

Mr Sanny Iskandar, chairman of the Indonesian Industrial Estates Association, said the blackout had resulted in a decline in factory output, interrupted production of goods and disrupted delivery of services.

"Many industrial companies which operated 24 hours each day and imposed overtime shifts for its workers to meet production or shipment target were also directly impacted," said Mr Sanny, whose association includes around 25 industrial estates in Jakarta, Banten and West Java.

Both Mr Sanny and Mr Sarman noted that affected businesses had to seek their own solution in the absence of a quick response from the PLN.

While small and medium-sized enterprises, which mostly do not own generators, had to halt their business operation, large companies could still operate with their own generators.

But, having generators means extra costs for businesses as they would have to pay for fuel, said Mr Sarman.

"We demand compensation in the form of electricity tariff discounts or exemption of tariffs for a few days," he said.

PLN , the country's sole electricity provider, has vowed to compensate affected customers by cutting power tariffs in line with the duration of the outage they experienced.

The company is estimated to suffer a loss of 90 billion rupiah as a result of the incident.

Mr Hariyadi Sukamdani, chairman of Indonesia Employers' Association, called for the PLN to pay compensation equal to the losses incurred to businesses through simple and doable procedures.

"The formula for the compensation is clear. But we still want to see how it is going to be executed," he said.