The Blessing of Electricity in the Heart of Borneo


I wrote this article in 2016 for Wartsila, one of biggest company in Finland who had several project in Indonesia. They gave me money to transport to their area, but in the end, the didn’t pay me for my hard work. I heard they didn’t like my article. So I post it in this blog.

Muara Teweh, Central Borneo

Along the way to the power plant of Bangkanai, Muara Teweh, Central Kalimantan, we can see how the local people live in a limited life. Electricity might be the new hope for them after a lot of productive sectors cannot stand anymore and are no longer able to support the people needs. In the island of Kalimantan we can see how the mining and the plantation sectors have failed to serve prosperity for the community.

There are a lot of crisis stories for us to see in the island, the loss of access to the natural resources, the longing for the prosperity, the poor basic infrastructures, and the lack of government's attentions in the area that used to be famous as the lung of the world.

***

The road seems un-appropriate. The rain has made it like a pond of mud that impossible to pass. But nothing fears Riki (25 years), the driver of PT. Wartsila, the Finland Electrical Company. He is the one who has the responsibility to take guests to the location of the Gas Engine Power Plant of Bangkanai.

Muara Teweh is the capital of North Barito Province, Central Kalimantan. I was one of the guests Riki takes to the location of the Power Plant. I wanted to see how it was built in the middle of the jungle and what people expect of it.

This was my first time trip to Muara Teweh. I flew from Jakarta to Banjarmasin, the capital of South Kalimantan. It was about an hour flight. And then, I took the land trip to Muara Teweh, Central Kalimantan for about ten hours. 

Actually, Muara Teweh is closer to Palangkaraya, the capital of Central Kalimantan, but because the track is not good to pass, people rather take the track from Banjarmasin. Besides, we will pass a lot of small cities along the way from Banjarmasin to Muara Teweh that will make our trip seem not too long. We can also see beautiful scenes and enjoy delicious food.

The Power Plant I visited located in Bangkanai, in the area of Karenda Village, the district of Lahai, North Barito Regency. It's in the middle of Kalimantan that used to call the lung of the world. The deforestation or the damaging of forest has created holes here and there around the island. The mining products have been exploited in many places. The dense forest decreases drastically. What we have left from the island is only the story of the wide jungle full of animals like orang utan, hornbills and many more.

According to Riki, the trip to Bangkanai would take about four hours. But when we left Muara Teweh I thought that it would take any longer. From Muara Teweh we crossed the Barito River by ferry to the district of Lue. The Lue district is the main pulse of the people’s life of Central Kalimantan. 

There're a lot of cities along the river banks. I can see how important the river is for the people. A lot of houses are built above the rivers and people use the water for bathing, washing and toilets.

After crossing the river by ferry, we went through a village and then through a dense forest. The road was very bad. Heavy rain seemed to have just fallen and made the road so slippery. It was so muddy. On the way I saw ponds full of mud. Motorbikes were parked by the road because it was very hard to pass the road. Luckily, Riki drove a Strada Triton that was able to pass the muddy road. 

Riki is a Dayak Bakumpai that is a majority tribe in Muara Teweh. He spent his childhood in the forest. That is why he knows every parts of Kalimantan forest. He has tried many kinds of jobs until he decided to join Wartsila. He confirmed to be able to drive many types of cars, included escavators. Some foreign workers call him a "crazy driver" because he can drive any type of cars on the bad and slippery road 60 km per hour.

Even though he is still young, he is never afraid to drive on the bad and slippery road. The main problem to drive on that kind of road is the way we control the wheel. If we swerve the right, the tires do not directly swerve the right. The slippery road is the main barrier. 

With his ability, Riki becomes the most trusted driver at PT. Wartsila. He has worked for this fin land Electrical Company since three years ago. Besides taking the employees, he is also the one who can go to the city for shopping tools and equipment at any time needed.

The trip was getting harder in the forest. The topography of the area of North Barito is dominated by hills and valleys. When driving with Riki, I felt like I rode a roller coaster that was brought up and down very quickly. Along the way, my heart beated so fast and my eyes didn't seem to blink because I was so worried to get an accident.

Then, it was proved. On one of the turns, Riki saw another car coming from another way. Riki stopped and parked the car. The other car seemed to try to stop suddenly at the fast speed. But the slippery road made the car keep on driving to us. And..Bangs!



The car hitted our car. Thanks to God we were fine. The front of the car was hard broken. Riki was out of the car and documented the accident. The driver of the other car also went out of his car. Then, Riki had an argument with the driver firms the other car in Dayak language. The arguments were resulted in fixing the cars together. There was nothing useful to have conflicts in the middle of a jungle.

Riki said, the accident was not the first for him. He had ever got an accident before on the same road. At the time he drove a Pajero that caused the front of the car very bad broken. He said that having an accident is one of the risks he faces when driving on muddy roads. In the rainy days, only special vehicles can go through the way. But there is also the risk of having accident because each vehicle will be hard to control.

A question comes in my mind about the process to move the heavy equipment and the containers to the location of the power plant. All the heavy equipment and the containers are taken to the location in the dry season. It is impossible for trucks passing the way in rainy season. That is why we always check the weather forecast to ensure that the heavy equipments are not distributed in rainy day or on the wet land, Riki said.

The roads are really in poor condition. For years, the government only builds roads in dense areas, but not in the forest areas. It is not their priority to build roads in such areas because not so many people take the ways.  That is why they do not pave the road to the power plant. They only harden it so vehicles can go through it. Besides, some energy and mining companies use the roads to distribute heavy equipment’s and take their employees.

In the area there are also a lot of timber companies that exploit wood of the forest to be sold in the city. Kalimantan is the witness of a massive deforestation to make few people rich. It is not wrong that Harison Ford actor and environmental activist came and irritated told the Forestry Minister, Zulkifli Hasan about this deforestation.  He contributed one of so many discordant voices over the damage ecosystem of Kalimantan.

***

Finally, I arrived in Bangkanai. I saw the Gas Engine Power Plant built by PT. Wartsila. A young engineer named Eko welcomed me and then explained me about the situations around the Power Plant. Too bad, even though all the power engines have been installed, the electricity is not been able to be supplied. Eko said that there are some problems that make the power plant cannot be appropriately functioned.

Unfortunately, although it is predicted to be able to serve the energy saving until UDR 1.6 trillion per year by reducing fuels of 245 thousand kiloliters, but in fact the operation of the Bangkanai power plant still faces some barriers. One of them is that up to now, PLN hasn't received any sign about the land acquisition for building 4 threads of a 150 kilovolt tower transmission.

Eko, has been for a month working in Bangkanai. He replaced his collega, Mahdi that was on leave. Earlier, the alumnus of Politeknik Bandung served in Dumai. Eko said, before he said “yes” for the job to replace Mahdi in Bangkanai, some other technicians had refused the job.

 The reason was about the difficult access to Bangkanai. "I am willing to take the job just because I want to have more experience," he said. Although it has been just a month, Eko really understood about the workflow in that power plant. He explained me about the situation in the gas engine power plant. 

He showed me the location of the gas, and then the pipes that transported gas to the plants, and the power to be supplied outside. He said, if the Bangkanai power plant operates, then there are 4 electrical systems that will be incorporated in the systems included South and Central Kalimantan (Kalselteng) that is Muara Teweh (8 MW), Buntok (10 MW), Batu Licin (12 MW) and Sampit (33 MW). 

The history of the plant began in 2013. On Wednesday, July 10, 2013, a contract of a power plant construction was signed. The power plant would use the energy source of gas as the gas engine power plant (PLTMG) in Bangkanai of Central Kalimantan with the capacity of 155 mega Watt (MW). PLN took a consortium of Wartsila Finland Oy - PT. Pembangunan Perumahan (Persero) Tbk, to build bangkanai power plant with the capacity of 155 MW. 

The contract was signed by the director of PLN, Nur pamudji and the regional director of PT. Wartsila Finland oy, Mr sushil Purohit and the director of PT. Pembangunan Perumahan (Persero) Tbk, Harry Nugroho. This is the first time in the history that the consortium is led by a foreign manufacturing company, Wartsila Finland Oy. 

"Usually, the consortium is led by Indonesian company and foreign companies are thebmembers. Now it is a foreign company that establishes a contract with PLN. I hope this can be a trend that a foreign manufacturing company can directly sign a contract with PLN", said Nur Pamudji to a local media. The participation of PT. Pembangunan Perumahan  (Persero) Tbk in the consortium this is also the form of a  synergy among BUMN to support the infrastructure development in Indonesia. 

The development project of the PLTMG is very important to take advantage of the gas in Central Kalimantan. "No one has used this gas except PLN. Now, the gas there is 20 MMBTUD but 4 MMBTUD is used by another company. So only 16 MMBTUD is absorbed by PLN" Nur Pamudji explains.

"At first, PLN would use the gas as the base load plant but then it was used as a peaker plant. Later we will build additional capacity for this plant by using the same volume of gas. We use this technology in East Java, at Grati power plants.

 There we save gas by using the tube of CNG (compressed natural gas). We are able to save 16 MMSCFD gas into the tube CNG and we are able to operate plants for 4 hours with a capacity of 300 MW. By using the volume of a small volume of gas, it will be able to generate big power of electricity. We call this a "Peaker Plant", Nur Pamudji explains.

Patterns like this happen outside Java such as Kalimantan. With the electricity consumption of only 50 to 60 percent during the days compared with the consumption during the night. Construction of gas-fired power plant will take about 15 months from the effective date of the contract, and it is expected that Bangkanai PLTMG with the capacity of 155 MW  can be able to strengthen the electricity system in South Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan (Kalselteng) at the end of 2014.

***

Gas Engine Power Plant (PLTMG) of Bangkanai can be seen as a symbol of hope. The presence of electrical energy in the community will bring hope of a better life. Some people in Muara Teweh tell about the power outages that occur several times a day. Even some government agencies and hotels, prepare the generator set to be used at any time during thevpower outages. We can also imagine how much the loss due to the power outages is.

At the central level, the government of President Joko Widodo and his vice Jusuf Kalla has ambitious targets to meet national electricity needs of up to 35,000 MW. Although many parties, including the minister himself, who considers this target is too grandiose, the government still go on. Meeting the needs of electricity is considered as a key policy for the sake of increasing the rate of the economy, improving the investment climate, as well as providing basic services to the people's need.

Not only supply the electricity, the government also has one of the flagship programs of "building Indonesia from the suburbs." This policy is considered as a correction of the approach of the previous government that is only focused on central regions, which are usually densely populated cities. One of the implementations of the policy of building from the suburbs is to build infrastructures, to strengthen border areas, and to make suburbs as front window of the Republic. The path to this goal is steep and winding. But, at least, the government has initiated the first step to achieve it.

The establishment of the power plants in Bangkanai is the response to the scarcity of electricity in Central and South Kalimantan. Until now, people in the two provinces complained about the alternate electricity blackouts by PLN. Although previously PLN has given appeal, to do rolling blackouts due to limited power supplies, people are still afraid about not getting clarity about the end of the electricity crisis.



Several public demonstrations have been recorded that urged PLN to meet the electricity needs. The PLN office has been ever hit with stones. Blackouts for 4-6 hours made the people uncomfortable. The blackout by reason of repairmen and maintenance of plant occur every year.

The students from various campuses were also challenged to channel the aspirations of the people by demonstrating in front of the PLN. Students demanded the government policy that the region can get the same rights in the supply of electricity as other major cities. Students regarded that the area is one of the largest suppliers of natural resources in Indonesia, South Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan should not be experiencing a power crisis as it is happening today. Several times, these demonstrations ended in chaos.

Electricity is very important in this region. Provincial Government (Provincial) of Central Kalimantan (Kalimantan) with 14 districts/ city in the province has raised Rp.500 billion in an attempt to overcome the power crisis in the local area. To achieve these funds the government budgeted 100 billion rupiah from the Regional Budget (APBD) and 14 counties and cities of 400 billion rupiah which began in 2014 to 2017.

Electricity is very important in this region. Provincial Government (Provincial) Central Kalimantan (Kalimantan) with 14 district / city in the province has raised IDR 500 billion in an attempt to overcome the power crisis in the local area. To achieve these funds the government budgeted IDR 100 billion from the Regional Budget (APBD) and 14 counties and cities of IDR 400 billion which began in 2014 to 2017.

"Central Kalimantan government will provide 25 billion every year, and 7 billion is for each district of the city. If it is collected, optimistically the entire villages and communities will have electricity," said Deputy Governor of Central Kalimantan, Achmad Diran in Palangkaraya, last June.

From the data of the Office of Energy and Mines of Central Kalimantan, until now, it is stated that there are still about 389 villages with 223 489 households haven’t enjoyed the electricity. On behalf of the government, Vice Governor said that to serve the electricity for the entire community in Central Kalimantan, it will take about 9 trillion and so far it has been just provided 7,055 trillion rupiah. "A total of IDR 7,055 trillion consists of a multi-year state budget of 4 trillion, 55 billion from private and 3 trillion from PLN plus 500 billion from the provincial government along with the District City in Central Kalimantan. Now there is still a shortage of IDR 1.94 trillion," he said, as published in local media.

He said that about 50.92 million tons of low calorie coal in East Kotawaringin and West Kotawaringin worthy material for generating electricity. Central Kalimantan has also amounted to 20 MMSCFD gas in North Barito and also to large-scale water and mini and micro hydro of 357 MW spread across eight districts. The Sunlight through the potential intensity of solar radiation is less than 4.8 WH / M2.

Then, biomass of 24.3 trillion MJ has been estimated with the capacity of 337.57 MW, biogas of waste oil for 2.605.567.046 MJ has been estimated with the capacity of 36.515 MW and wind along the Coast in Central Kalimantan. By looking at this potential, it is supposed to central Kalimantan not to have electricity crisis. In fact there are hundreds of thousands of people who have not been able to enjoy the electricity. Although the government makes program “Kalteng Tarang” or light, the program has not been able to cope with the electricity crisis there. 

Then the question is how large is the influence of the presence of electrical energy for the common? Can the presence of the electrical power help the community to develop the economic life after the sectors of plantations and mining slumped? What is the public perception of the presence of the power?

***

The man, named Tagah. He stays in front of the electrical company's site. His house is one of as many as 10 houses located in front of the company. He lives with his wife, Galuh and their four children. All the children are male and work for various companies nearby. Some work as laborers, and others work as security guards. They are Suparman, Fahrurrozi, Joni Rumansyah, and Ali Sadikin.

A man named Tagah

Mr. Tagah claimed himself as a member of the ethnic of Dayak Bakumpai. Most members of bakumpai are Moslems, but there are also some who have the local religion, Kaharingan. They are found in Marabahan, which is located in one of the districts in South Kalimantan, Barito Kuala, that then spread through the coast.

Etymologically, Bakumpai is the nickname for the Dayak tribes that inhabit the Barito river basin. Bakumpai comes from the word ba (interpreted from Banjar language that means to have) and kumpai which means grass. From this title, it is understood that this tribe living in the area with a lot of grass. According to the legend, the origin of the tribe of Dayak Bakumpai is Dayak Ngaju who eventually emigrated to Marabahan. 

The people of bakumpai are in Dutch called Becompaijers / Bekoempaiers, is the subetnis of moslem Dayak Ngaju that live along the banks of the river basin of Barito in South Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan, from Marabahan, Barito Kuala until Puruk Cahu, Murung Raya. The Bakumpai tribe originated upstream of the former District of Bakumpai while in the downstream is the settlement of the Barangas (Baraki). They live along the river bank because the river is the pulse of all activities, such as bathing, washing, and also toilets

The Dayak Bakumpai has a variety of professions. Many of those depend on the forest and work as a rubber tappers, rattan gatherers and woodcutters. They also do gardening to fill their needs. For decades, they have been doing those professions in these indigenous forests that used to be a hunting area.

In the past, Tagah lived in Marabahan. He is shifting cultivators in the forests around Barito. Furthermore, he then worked as a rubber tapper because it is quite promising. When the selling price of rubber fell, he then found another profession. He then moved to around the plant site because he believed that the area would be developed. Moreover, he worked as a rubber tapper around the plant. 

But since the last two years, he has been no longer tapping rubber. As a rubber tapper he only earned a little money. His income was not comparable to the hard work he did, he had to plant the trees, care for the tree, and then tap the sap into rubber.

In his prime time, rubber price could reach IDR 15 thousand per kilogram. Now, the price of rubber has dropped dramatically and only IDR 4,000 per kilogram. This amount is not comparable to the hard work of rubber farmers. It's hard to survive to be just a rubber tapper. The income is not enough to buy basic needs. The price of sugar is only 20 thousand per kilogram. Rice is 10,000 per kilogram. How does he live his life if he only a rubber farmer?.

The price of rubber since the last two years has continued to fall. At the farm level, rubber price keeps going down from IDR 15,000 to 10,000 per kilogram. And this year it has been plunged at the range of IDR 5,000 to 4,000 per kilogram. In fact, rubber is one of the commodities of foreign exchange and also the field for living for the people of Indonesia. But the rubber farmers live in poverty.

Farmers wonder why rubber price keeps falling.  The quality of rubber latex is improving. The demand of rubber is also higher. Moreover, the value of the US dollar is also higher. But somehow, the life of the rubber farmers is still apprehensive.

 Rubber absorbs into the market at very cheap prices. As a result, in some places, the condition of the rubber farmers takes a big hit. Media reported that many children of rubber farmers dropped out of school. Crime is increasing. "If you rely on crops, you could be sick. Fortunately there is an electrical company to be expected to provide jobs for local residents, "said Tagah.

The entry of large corporate in Kalimantan is the beginning of their days as a laborer in a variety of oil palm plantations or in some development companies. They become manual workers and porters in the company, and then leave their former profession in the jungle as farmers and planters.

Tagah is powerless in the face of change. He left his job as a rubber tapper. He then came to a close the power plant and then buy a piece of land nearby. There, he built a small house that looks crowded to accommodate all family members. In front of the small house, he opened a small shop that is often full with workers. He sells coffee, tea, and some pastries.

When I stopped by the shop, he then invited me to make my choice of what to drink. When I choosed coffee, he then took a packaged coffee and tore it, then he pleased me to taste it. While tasting the coffee, I choosed to listen to his stories.

"Here, almost nobody else can be sustaining economic life for the citizens. Forests have been for long divided by the private sector. The natural resources have been for long been exploited. We are just the forest people that sell some commodities such as rattan and resin, "he said again.

I caught a note of bitterness in his voice. His statement was not wrong at all. Kalimantan is known as a large island that became a bone of contention for many people. Here, all the natural resources drained in order to maximize the wheels of capitalism. The nature if Kalimantan has long been a field of plunder from many parties working together for the sake of short-term orientation of life, without thinking of how to savevthe earth for our future generations.

The latest data of the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) states that the number of poor people is 148 820 people, or about 6.07 percent of the total population. In North Barito district the number of poor people is over 7,450 or 5.88 percent of the population.

The increasing of the number of poor people is mostly started when illegal logging was banned by the government, so that people lost their promising life. The government labeled the activities as illegal residents, and at the same time providing access to large corporate logging. Similarly, it is what is happening in the mining sector. Society does not have access to a resource management because it is considered to damage the ecosystem and the environment.

Unfortunately, this argument does not apply when giving the concession rights to private parties. Poverty is more widespread and also several factors such as low levels of education, customs bond, a large number of families, young marriage age, the habit of drinking wine, and the absence of creativity to find a breakthrough in the field of improvement of the economic life of the family.

The rise of agriculture and mining posts the local community as a spectator. Plantation and mining are exploited in large scale, which benefits are only enjoyed by a handful of the political elite in Jakarta. It is ironic when we see provinces that are rich in natural resources having a high enough poverty rate. We can infer that the wealth is not distributed evenly. In fact, society is experiencing the impact of environmental damage such as floods, landslides, and the loss of life in the forests.

Save Our Borneo (SOB), an environment care institution, stated that it is approximately 80 percent of deforestation in Kalimantan due to palm oil expansion by large enterprises. This institution describes the greatest damage of Kalimantan forest is due to land clearing for palm oil, and the remaining 20% for mining and transmigration area.

The institution also presented that based on the 10 year trend-prediction, 864 thousand hectares per year, or 2.16%  of the 59 million hectares of Kalimantan area has been damaged (deforested). Forest destruction in Central Kalimantan province has been recorded as the largest, compared to three other provinces in terms of the extent of the damage which has reached 256 thousand hectares per year.

Of the more than 10 million forest area of Central Kalimantan, the deforestation rate is about 2.2% per year. While South Kalimantan province, has the fastest deforestation rate compared to other provinces, although its range is relatively small. Recorded area of 66.3 thousand hectares of forest disappear per year of the total area of about 3 million hectares of forest.

The condition is almost similar to the three other provinces, with spacious and at different rates. The main cause is the opening of coal mines and oil palm plantations. West Kalimantan, for example, of the area of 12.8 million hectares of forest, the deforestation rate had reached 166 thousand hectares per year or 1.9%.  The excessive and careless exploitation activities are not only resulting in damaged forests, but also having an impact on floods and landslides.

In the end, the local people have to accept the impact of development. Disasters often hit in several districts in Central Kalimantan, such as Barito Utara, Murung Kingdom, South Barito. Seasonal flooding that is originally only once a year, now occurs four or five times a year.

Another negative impact of forest exploitation is the loss of local identity. Inflows of foreign cultures brought by immigrant communities in plantation and mining activities deemed to have caused the erosion of local knowledge. The dependence on outside parties is mostly caused by the narrowing of land that is one of the public infrastructures, so that they become dependent on outsiders.

***

Infront of the power plant complex, Tagah decided to no longer tapping rubber. He is also not possible to cut wood in the forest and sell the timber. He keeps on the small shop that he manages with his wife. His four children become workers in various companies around Bangkanai.

"In the past, the land here had no value. But since the electrical companies stood, lands are now expensive. One cubic meter is 100,000 rupiah, "he said.

I imagine, if the power plant is active and starts supplying the electricity needs for the citizens, perhaps the area located in the middle of the forest will be more crowded. Many people will come and live around. People follow the laws of nature. They will build a village in wherever they can find energy.

One thing that stuck out lately is the conflict between the community and the company. Riki admitted that most often the citizens block the way with portal so that all vehicles cannot pass. Portal here means a roadblock that is usually in the form of wood or stone that make vehicles should stop, or may simply cannot pass. "If there is a portal, there will be usually a dialog. People do that to convey the demands to the company, "he said.
What is the demand? "Sometimes people ask for a job. They want their families work as employees of the company. The community also blocks the way with a portal to ask for a compensation for their ground to the company, "he said.

This action of blocking the way is often reinforced the argument that the roads are the parts of the indigenous land owned by The Dayak Bakumpai ethnic. As far as I have observed, there are still many people who run traditional rituals. Many of those still maintain a local religious belief, called Kaharingan. The religion emphasizes on harmony with nature, and on any part that is right for the community. Tagah tells that Dayak indigenous leader who live in the village Bakumpai Karendan occasionally visits the place. 

A lot of Karendang residents still hold the local belief of Dayak Kaharingan. The Indonesian government has a policy that prohibits the presence of all the local religion. The strategy to keep the Kaharingan is by calling the religion as Hinduism, one of the religions that is recognized by the government. This strategy is effective because the religion is immediately recognized and protected by the state. In fact, Kaharingan is not the same as Hindus. Kaharingan has the basic of a different faith.

But often, the claim of the local religion is just another reason that appears on the surface. In the deeper layer, we find the reality is quite alarming in the form of lack of access to natural resources. What emerges is the exclusion of local people from the land that used to be the area they occupy. We can also find facts about the high unemployment rate, as well as the feeling of not being involved in various development activities.

Tagah is very enthusiastic when discussing about the demonstration of the citizens by building a portal. According to him, the use of the portal is the most effective way to invite the company to a dialogue. "If you do not use a portal, recruitment procedures will take long. People are asked to fill a job application file. For months there will be no answer to that application. The shortcut is by using a portal, because there will be a direct response."

The Company will promptly respond due to blockage of roads to lead to a stagnant activity. Typically, the company will accommodate people who want to become employees. They will be given jobs as laborers or freelancers. Riki said those who are recruited because of the tragedy of portal are often lazy and they also don't have a good work ethic. "It is actually confusing to treat them. If they are given a job, they are often lazy. "

At first glance, this may seem trivial. However, this shows that people want to be part of the ongoing projects. Although in recent times they do not show a good work ethic, the company keeps them only to get supports from the local community in project development.

Riki still remembers when the working volume at the plant rose, a lot of workers from the recruits hid in the local people's houses. In the morning, they came to work to give report, but in the working hours they then. In the afternoon, they came again to sign the attendance.
It is also interesting to see how the relationship between the population around the plant site. Mr. Tagah said that they have asked so many times to have electricity for the lights. But until now, the electricity has not been supplied. They were only given water. The company often sends tanker trucks filled with water, which distribute water to all residents, "he said.

What is expected in the future is the presence of a strong relationship between the company and local communities. He wants the company to not only use the natural resources, but also provide benefits to the economic development of local communities, by providing jobs and providing facilities to local residents. "What I want is that we can live in harmony as neighbors who respect each other," he said.

***

THE QUESTION is how important is the electricity for the local community's economic activities? When the plantations and mines often create problems, how about the future of the presence of the power installations in the community?

Almost all the people I have met in Muara Teweh until Bangkanai acknowledges that electricity is something very important to them. Most people deeply need electricity to improve the well-being and improve the economy of the village.

In JNB Hotels in Muara Teweh, I met with a man named Mardamin. According to him, electricity is more important than all other basic infrastructures. "If roads are in poor conditions, then we can take an alternative ways. We can also use other modes of transportation such as airplanes and boats. As well as telecommunications, we can find another way. But if the power goes out, we cannot do anything. All activities will be disrupted, "he said.

Mardamin is a hotel and restaurant entrepreneur. He is upset about the frequent power outages of up to six hours a day in the region. To anticipate it, he then used a backup power generator. However, the cost to operate the generator is big enough for him. He must spend big money to turn on the generator.

If electricity needs can be filled, Mardamin plans to increase his business activities. He wants to open another hotel, then invests his money into the plantation sector. He wants to recruit labor as many as possible in order to sustain future business units he will run. He is very emphatic about his plans if the electricity needs is filled.



Undeniably, electrical energy plays a very dominant role in people's everyday lives.  The activities carried out at homes, offices, shops, factories, public facilities, social and many more are very dependent of electricity. The nation's dependence on electrical energy is very large, so the unavailability of electricity will pose a crucial problem, it can even lead to the collapse of the nation's economy.

If the electricity is off for 1 hour, the impact is very large. So no wonder, if there is a power outage, the household activities will be disturbed, the office cannot operate, most factories are ceased to operate so that the velocity of the practical business world disrupted. It can be said that the economic losses caused by a power outage is about great value. The availability of electrical energy is vital for the survival of life activities.

Electricity is the basic human need that must be provided in order to support community activities. Moreover, the Indonesian government is targeting the quite high economic growth of 5.7 to 6 percent per year, so the electricity growth is surely needed at 7.5 to 8 percent. The growth of electricity should be higher because the sufficient reserve is required when there is a shortage of supply.

To support economic growth and meet the needs of society, the Jokowi-JK government has been targeting to add 35,000 MW of electricity capacity in the next five years, in 2014-2019. Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources as the technical implementation of this program has projected that will increase electricity consumption by an average of 10.1% per year.

While the national electricity needs of 171 terawatt hour (TWh) will grow to 1,075 TWh in 2031. The number may rise in line with economic growth. Until 2014, the installed electric capacity in Indonesia was only 55 thousand MW, it was quite low compared to China which had a capacity of 1.3 million MW.  We can say, up to now, Indonesia is still experiencing a shortage of electrical energy.

For Tagah, for the residents who live in the jungle, electricity is essential as lighting. Because of electricity, he can also watch television and watch life elsewhere. Because of electricity, children around the jungle can get access to a good education, and care the forests for the sustainable return. "All my children are already working in the company. Without electricity, they might not be labors. Maybe later they have to study hard and become the boss of the company, "he said.

At first glance, Tagah seemed to joke. But I knew that there was an important message behind the sentence. He wants a better life at the time that electricity runs through the villages. He wants improvements in infrastructure, improvements of educational facilities. He wants a more prosperous life in the future.

In the heartland of Kalimantan, I recorded all his wishes and sincerely hoped that all of them will come true in the future. (*)


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