Jakarta administration operates Chinese-made ZhongTong buses decommissioned under Ahok after several spontaneously combusted

FILE PHOTO: A ZhongTong-made Transjakarta bus that caught on fire on Jalan Gatot Subroto, South Jakarta, in March 2015. The incident led to the Jakarta administration to ground and eventually decommission buses made by the Chinese auto manufacturers.
FILE PHOTO: A ZhongTong-made Transjakarta bus that caught on fire on Jalan Gatot Subroto, South Jakarta, in March 2015. The incident led to the Jakarta administration to ground and eventually decommission buses made by the Chinese auto manufacturers.

On Friday, TransJakarta recommissioned buses made by Chinese manufacturers ZhongTong, officials have confirmed, which had previously been mired in scandals related to passenger safety and corruption.

In 2015, then-Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama said the administration decommissioned ZhongTong buses after numerous incidents in which the Chinese-made buses spontaneously combusted — incidents believed to have been triggered by electrical failures and miraculously saw no casualties. 

Ahok then pledged to stop purchasing ZhongTong buses — which he described as shabby in build — and instead brought in buses from German auto manufacturer Mercedes-Benz and Swedish auto manufacturer Scania.

Furthermore, also in 2015, former Jakarta Transportation Agency Head Udar Pristono was sentenced to 13 years in prison for embezzlement and bribery in the procurement of ZhongTong buses in 2012 and 2013.

TransJakarta spokeswoman Nadia Disposanjoyo said the ZhongTong buses are returning to Jakarta’s streets after its lengthy absence in order to meet TransJakarta’s growing number of passengers. 

“Right now they are being used to serve during peak hours in crowded locations,” she told CNN Indonesia today, without specifying specific routes the ZhongTong buses would be deployed on.

There are reportedly 59 ZhongTong buses in TransJakarta’s fleet.

Nadia also said that TransJakarta had to obey a legal ruling issued in 2018, which orders the operation of the ZhongTong buses to fulfill a contract with the buses’ Indonesian supplier.

“Several specs [of the buses] have been upgraded. For every bus, every day we make sure that they are operation-ready before we serve the public,” she said.

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