IO, Surabaya – Bangka Belitung is an archipelagic province covering 463 islands in total, just 48 of which are inhabited. Similar to other such areas, distribution of petroleum-based fuel remains a critical issue faced by local authorities.
During the lecture he gave in his visit to the Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology (ITS) Surabaya, Friday (22/6), Bangka Belitung Governor Dr H Erzaldi Rosman SE MM said that fishermen from major islands of Bangka and Belitung act as middlemen, buying and selling fuel every day to inhabitants of smaller islands. This type of inefficiency obviously results in steep fuel prices for locals.
For this reason Dr. Erzaldi came all the way to Surabaya to explore opportunities for cooperation between ITS and Babel Province, most of whose citizens are professional fishermen for whom the “expensive-fuel” problem naturally stands as a serious drawback.
“We need to find ways for these fishermen to operate more efficiently, and this means their island communities need another source of energy. I think electric-powered cars and boats are what we need,” opined the former Central Bangka Regent, in a meeting at ITS Rectorate also attended by the Bangka Belitung PT PLN General Manager.
He said the best solution for Babel Province would be to develop fuel-efficient transportation initially fuelled by oil-fired power generation units, supported by data from PLN pointing out that Babel does in fact have a surplus of electricity.
The need of Babel Province for such electrical-powered transportation is in line with ITS research and production, as the institution has produced motors and electric cars; it would be feasible to power fishing boats with motors as well. This was confirmed by a team from National Ship Design and Engineering (Nasdec) or a Technical Operation Unit [UPT] who were present at the event.
Erzaldi explained that the development of electric-powered transportation in this region is further facilitated by the tin mining industry, which yields 17 different types of minerals, including lithium, zicron and thorium.
Lithium is one of the most popular raw materials for batteries, using well-proven technology promising higher energy density at a lower cost. Thus far, particular groups have been exploiting those 17 minerals for their own profit, thus resulting in a financial loss for the Province. “We have thus been progressing on regional regulation of mining, and next month we expect to release our findings,” said the man who has also served two terms as Mayor of Bangka Belitung.
He believes that if a meaningful cooperation can be established, then the advantages of natural resources can be maximized for the well-being of citizens, especially fishermen and tourists.
In response, ITS Rector Prof. Ir Joni Hermana MSc ES PhD agreed that it would be a good move to work in the western part of Indonesia, long ignored in national development schemes. “It would be with honor and pride that we could contribute and support Bangka Belitung development progress. As an educational institution, it is also part of our shared responsibility,” he asserted.
He also confirmed that ITS is very ready to move and expedite quickly in response to the demands of Governor, who has urged cooperation to be promptly linked up. Erzaldi targets July 2nd for his side to invite representatives to ITS from the Department of Environment, Regional Planning and Development, Mining, Marine and Fisheries, as well as the Department of Industry and Commerce, in discussing details of existing cooperation, leading to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
In fact, ITS has already been working together with PLN. “We have carried out a direct survey in Bangka Belitung Province to ascertain people’s needs, so that the Governor’s directives could be realized soon,” said the Professor of Environmental Engineering.
He added that, as the Nasdec team had previously stated, Babel Province fishermen preferred boats made of bamboo or wood rather than fiberglass. For that, Nasdec ITS has also come up with a design for laminated-bamboo vessels ready to be produced if this cooperation continues.
The partnership with Babel Province is not focusing on the development of electric-powered transportation but also on six of ITS’ leading research efforts in Maritime, Energy Efficiency, Housing and Environment, ICT Information, Nano Technology and Disaster Management fields; these might also be pilot projects in Babel Province.
“In addition to these electric-based inventions, we want to resolve landfill problems, as we projected the feasibility of renewable energy,” said the number one person in Bangka Belitung, a recipient of a Wahana Tata Nugraha award from the Ministry of Transportation.
During the morning discussion, Erzaldi also expressed the hope that later his people could pursue their Master’s and Doctoral studies at ITS, to enrichen local human-resource qualities once both parties have completed their joint project agreement. (ITS)