Car Made by Solo Students Turning Heads in Jakarta
Anita Rachman & Antara
After Solo Mayor Joko Widodo garnered widespread praise for championing a car assembled by students in his city, politicians have quickly followed his lead and expressed their interest in the automobile.
Some lawmakers, criticized last year for ostentatious lifestyles and flashy cars, said they were interested in purchasing one.
Joko, or Jokowi as he is popularly known, was using a car assembled by students of the SMK 2 vocational school in Solo. His deputy, F.X. Hadi Rudyatmo, is using a car assembled by students from the city’s SMK Warga.
The 1.5-liter engine sport utility vehicles cost about Rp 95 million ($10,500) each but are sold for Rp 120 million to the public.
By Wednesday, buyers of the cars included House of Representatives Speaker Marzuki Alie. Other lawmakers were reportedly also planning to place orders for the car, branded “Kiat Esemka” — a reference to how SMK is pronounced and Kiat Motor, a car repair shop and dealership in Solo that worked with the schools to assemble the vehicles.
“Yes, I bought one unit, the one with a double cabin type,” Marzuki said on Wednesday. He bought a model called Esmeka Rajawali.
Marzuki said the car would be used by his private guards, and their government-provided car would be returned to the state.
However, Hadi later on Wednesday said that he and the mayor will have to revert to their old official cars.
“Starting today, I will use my previous car again,” Hadi said. He said he and the mayor had driven the cars for two days as a trial and to show appreciation for the students’ work.
He said the vehicles do not yet have roadworthiness certificates, which must to be issued by the Transportation Ministry’s land transportation office.
Lawmaker Roy Suryo from the Democratic Party on Wednesday also said he was planning to buy an Esemka car.
“I am really serious and have already contacted those concerned. Hopefully this good intention to encourage our nation’s sons and daughters could be supported,” he said.
A lawmaker from the United Development Party (PPP), Arwani Thomafi, said he really wanted one.
“I’m not only interested, but desperate to see and try the car made by our people,” Arwani said. “Who else should buy it but us?”
Budi Martono, who mentors students at SMK 2 Solo, said that almost all of the components were made locally, adding that only three types of components were imported.