Power restored in Jakarta after Sunday's huge blackout

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

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

"Alhamdulillah (thanks 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.

Sunday's blackout - 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.

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's headquarters on Monday, chastised the company for the incident, urging it to fix the problem as soon as possible.

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

The blackout severely hurt both small enterprises and big companies, which experienced disruptions in their operations, and business groups urged PLN to provide compensation.

Mr Sarman Simanjorang, deputy chairman of the Jakarta chapter of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, estimated that in Jakarta, the losses borne by businesses 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$19.4 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 caused a decline in factory output, interrupted production of goods and disrupted delivery of services.

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

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

While small and medium-sized enterprises, which mostly do not own generators, had to halt their operations, large companies with generators could still go on. But having generators means extra costs for businesses as they would have to pay for fuel, said Mr Sarman.

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 experienced. PLN estimates a loss of 90 billion rupiah as a result of the incident.

Mr Hariyadi Sukamdani, chairman of the Indonesian Employers' Association, called for PLN to pay compensation 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2019, with the headline 'Power restored in Jakarta after Sunday's huge blackout'. Print Edition | Subscribe