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Indonesia’s Thousand Island Underwater Cable Project Nearing Completion

Monday, November 14th, 2011

The Thousand Islands regency under the Jakarta Provincial Government has been a major tourist destination for the region, attracting anywhere between 15,000 to 20,000 local and international tourists every day. The group of islands is divided into the northern and the southern parts, but only the southern area currently enjoys electricity supplied via underwater cables.

To address the issue of electricity supply to the northern island group region, the Jakarta Provincial Government has invested up to RP 103 billion (US$11.7 million) to install underwater electrical cables and connect the northern part to nearby Java for electricity. The project is set to be completed by the end of October 2011, finally giving the rest of the Thousand Island residents 24-hour access to electricity.

The Thousand Islands

Locally known as Kepulauan Seribu, the Thousand Islands is a group of 105 islands that spreads north of Jakarta and into the Java Sea. More than 30,000 people are living on the islands, with the greatest population concentration located on 11 of the islands. The rest are either uninhabited or are used primarily as resort destinations.

With tourism as the major income source, the Thousand Islands also have big potential for a maritime economy, prompting the government of the Jakarta Special Province (DKI Jakarta) to improve the utilities serving the islands for the welfare of its local residents. Of course 24-hour access to electricity was one of the major concerns residents in the islands had been struggling with for years.

The more than 9000 residents living in the southern sub-district and the 20,000 people in the northern sub-district currently rely on dieselpowered generators for electricity. These generators provide residents with a maximum 10 to 12 hours of available power each day. There were plans for solar power projects which were opened up for Chinese investors, but such projects will only be implemented in limited pilot areas in the district. Underwater cables bringing electricity from the main island remains the most viable option.

After long delays caused by cable damage under the sea, electricity was eventually installed in the southern sub-district in 2008 as a result of a collaborative effort between DKI Jakarta and the state utility firm PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN). The 3,140-meter underwater electricity network makes use of a prepaid-based system to distribute electricity for the residents. The same system will also be implemented once the northern phase of the underwater project is completed.

24 Hours Electricity – Finally!

Despite the relatively expensive investments poured into the underwater project, the Jakarta Special Provincial government remains positive that the cable installation will proceed and be completed on schedule – finally providing 24-hour electricity to the people of the northern sub-district by the start of 2012. The completion will occur just in time to cater to the growing needs of a booming tourism industry in the islands.

Aside from the provision of 24-hour access to electricity, the Jakarta Special Provincial Government is also getting ready to upgrade the community health services available in the Thousand Islands. This includes the provision of better maternity hospitals and other hospitalization services. These services will be provided first in the 11 major residential islands in the regency, and will gradually be distributed to the other minor residential and resort islands in the group.

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