The special knack of PT Industri Kereta Api

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Dahlan Iskan former Minister of State-Owned Enterprises

IO – These days, domestically-builtelectric buses are circling the city of Madiun, East Java. Anyone can ride around the city from 6 pm to 9 pm every day.

It was the mayor of Madiun, Maidi, who asked for that. Yes, his name is only Maidi. But according to reporters in Madiun, he has been the best mayor of the city until now. In the face of a one-word name like Maidi, foreign newspapers used to explain to their readers: “as is common in Indonesia many people only have one-word names.” This means that readers do not blame the newspaper and think the journalists are lazy to find out the person’s full name.

The full name is Maidi. He was born in Magetan and became a teacher in Madiun. Good perfor- mance. Then he became a structural official at the Madiun education of- fice. Gradually he became the head of the education office. Then he rose again to become a city secretary. In an election of the mayor of Madiun, Maidi was nominated by the Demo- cratic Party. He was paired up with a person from PDI-Perjuangan Party. They won the election.

The electric bus is indeed Madi- un’s creation. The body is made in Malang, the motor is from China, the battery from Taiwan. Who made it: PT Industri Kereta Api (PT INKA)– the only railway industry in Indo- nesia.

Before being tested around the city for days, the bus had already been put on the toll road. From Madiun to Nganjuk and back again. It made no problem. Charging its electric power once is sufficient to cover the distance of 200 km.

Considering the design, this bus seems suitable for Trans Jakarta. There’s a wide door on the right. The position of the door is also high and without a ladder. It fits the height of the Trans Jakarta stops. But this bus still provides two normal doors on the left front and center. The two doors on the left side would have to be eliminated should Trans Jakarta wish to buy it. To save costs.

INKA is indeed eyeing the Trans Jakarta needs. Therefore, this prototype must be tested for its reliability. The tour of the city of Madiun will not be stopped until the objective of the trial is achieved.

Maidi is happy. INKA is happy. People on the street are happy. I suggest that the route of this bus be added for going around the railway factory complex. Especially if the passengers are children and adolescents. To be like an educational tour. Let the people of Madiun know that there is a railway factory in the city. It’s safe anyway, they don’t need to get off the bus while on the tour.

Incidentally, the factory is now very clean. Neat. The garden is quite visible. Especially now that there are many new trains parked in the yard. These are the trains ready to be sent to the Philippines. The locomotive was made by Madiun. “We will immediately send three series to Manila,” said I Gede Agus Prayatna, director of INKA. “Each series consists of one locomotive and five carriages,” added Gede, who has lived in Madiun for 27 Years. Before the current pandemic, INKA also exported carriages to Bangladesh, totaling 200. The project was hampered by Covid-19, but in the end, it was okay. Bangladesh has recently become an economic star in the South Asian region. Its economic growth skyrocketed: up to 7 percent for three years in a row. During this pandemic, it was predicted that Bangladesh’s economic growth would still be above 5 percent.

I visited the factory last Thursday. With that bus which is given the name E-Inobus – the inos stands for innovation. I imagine how proud it would be if a Madiun student was touring this factory and riding the bus.

Arriving at the back of INKA, the bus stops. I was asked to get off. There were rows of new trains ready to be shipped. That is the Light Rail Transit (LRT) train that will operate between Bekasi-Jakarta and Cibubur-Jakarta. Now 8 series has been sent. 6 trains each. Next March, all orders, 31 series, have to be shipped to Bogor. “They will be tested there for 8 months,” said Gede, an alumnus of mechanical engineering at Udayana University.

The testing was carried out by the Ministry of Transportation. The test time is so long because all the systems have to be tested. This is a public vehicle that must be safe. INKA has indeed carried out the test but not in one operational simulation test.

The test will involve the signal and the computer system. The train will not be controlled by the driver. It moves and stops by itself, relying entirely on computers. The position of the electricity for this train is not above the carriage like that on an electric train (KRL). The power is on the 3rd rail which is located outside the flyover. Therefore, this train line must be on an elevated line. It will be a problem if the route is on the ground with many intersections.

INKA can make LRT like that whose top speed is 80 km/hour – an average of 60 km/hour because of frequent stops. From such a train, INKA then looks at the electric bus market. Moreover, INKA was once asked to make the kancil – a national car planned during the time of Prof.

B.J. Habibie as Indonesian President. What if Trans Jakarta doesn’t order electric buses made by INKA? What if Trans Jakarta chooses to import electric buses from China? What if the winner of the Trans Jakarta electric bus tender later admits to not making them here but importing

them from China?

The answer is to wait for next year. Next year is the Year of the Buffalo. But we don’t know yet who would be the fool. At least we’ve left the Year of the Rat – in which up to 6 people have been sentenced for life.

But INKA doesn’t seem like a buffalo. INKA can still target the African market or Congo to be precise. The country has already shown an interest in ordering many things from INKA, including the electric bus. Or, perhaps, we should wait for another year after that which is the Year of the Tiger.