Samarinda, East Kalimantan. In a move that is the first of its kind in Indonesia, East Kalimantan Governor Awang Faroek Ishak announced he would require all of the provincial administration’s 8,000 civil servants to ride bicycles to work.
Official cars will only be used for long trips or by employees who live far from their office, which will set an example for the rest of the province and the entire country on conserving energy and reducing pollution, the governor said in the provincial capital Samarinda on Thursday.
“We are now calculating how much money we need to buy bikes and how much we can save from the program. So, all officials currently using the administration’s cars must immediately start using bicycles,” he said.
The program comes on the heels of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s announcement of a national fuel-saving campaign, geared in particular toward reducing dependence on subsidized fuel.
East Kalimantan has recently been at odds with the central government over fuel allocations and more largely over resource sharing. A number of organizations and local governments here have been protesting the province’s small subsidized fuel quota, which for the past month has caused long lines at gas stations, especially after the price of non-subsidized fuel went up in April.
Last month, the governors of Kalimantan’s four provinces threatened to halt all resource shipments from the island unless the central government raised the quota. The row came to a head when a coalition of groups tried to block coal barges traveling down the Mahakam River toward Samarinda late in the month.
Awang said the “bike to work” program did not mean employees could ride motorbikes. He called on all districts and subdistricts in East Kalimantan to follow suit.
“They should all use bicycles rather than cars or motorcycles,” he said. “Besides saving energy, it is also healthy.”
Timur Mudiyat Noor, a provincial legislator, dismissed the plan as a waste of money. Buying bicycles for 8,000 civil servants would cost billions of rupiah and prove counterproductive, he said.
He said he wondered what the province would do with its fleet of official cars.
“This plan won’t be effective. Moreover, many civil servants live far away from their office,” Timur said.
He suggested that the administration issue a clear regulation banning the use of subsidized fuels by civil servants.
“Then the administration must enforce it and punish those who violate it,” he said.
Amrullah, head of East Kalimantan’s energy and mining agency, said he had ordered all gas stations to refuse to service official cars, sporting red license plates, with subsidized fuel.
“All red-plate vehicles must refuel with [unsubsidized] Pertamax fuel,” he said. “If we receive any reports that they are filling up with subsidized fuel, then both the officials and the gas station attendants will be duly punished.
“This regulation applies to all civil servants in the province.”