Asahan III power plant project still in limbo
Apriadi Gunawan. The Jakarta Post, Medan - 21/11/2011
The 180-megawatt Asahan III hydropower plant (PLTA) project in Toba Samosir regency, North Sumatra, has remained in limbo for the past seven years due to various conflicts of interest.
The Asahan III PLTA project has been neglected due to the North Sumatra Provincial administration’s stance of not issuing a principle permit for investors interested in carrying out the project.
Based on available information, three investors had expressed interest in building the project. They are state power firm PT PLN, PT Bajradaya Sentranusa and PT Hamwa Engineering and Construction.
The only investor receiving strong support from the central government was PLN, while the provincial administration has tended to favor Bajradaya Sentranusa. Based on reports, PT Bajradaya Sentranusa had obtained a license to build the Asahan III PLTA from then governor Rudolf Pardede. However, the company has yet to work on the project because the central government was late in issuing a business license.
North Sumatra Energy and Mineral Resources Office head Untungta Kaban acknowledged that the Asahan III PLTA project was hampered by licensing problems. He said three prospective investors had requested the license from the provincial administration.
He added, however, that the provincial administration had yet to issue a principle license to one of the investors due to issues that needed further evaluation. Untungta said the issues were related to confidence in the investors’ commitment to building the plant.
“The commitment is currently being discussed. We hope the issue would be settled soon so the provincial administration could immediately issue the principle license,” Untungta told The Jakarta Post.
When asked about the details of the commitment the provincial administration was seeking, Untungta said that the Asahan III PLTA project was for the sake of the people and not just business.
Economic observer and North Sumatra University School of Economics dean Jhon Tafbu Ritonga said the project remained indefinite due to conflicts of interest between the central government and the provincial administration.
According to Tafbu, the provincial administration has no excuse for withholding the principle license to carry out the project if the central government had already appointed PLN. On the other hand, Tafbu said the central government should not bypass the province because there should be comprehensive dialogue for resolving the issues.
“Synchronization and coordination between the central and provincial administration has been ineffective and therefore the Asahan III PLTA project remains in limbo,” said Tafbu.
Consumer Protection and Advocacy Institute director Farid Wajdi, who is also dean of the North Sumatra Muhammadiyah University Law School, surmised that the conflict of interest and the Asahan III PLTA project polemic were the legacy of previous officials.
“There is no other option. The central government and provincial administration must sit together to resolve the Asahan III PLTA issue. The war of nerves over which party is authorized to build the project shows that the central government and provincial administration have no sense of urgency,” Farid said.