Esemka car factory operating in Central Java, eyewitness claim
Several eyewitnesses have said a factory belonging to PT Solo Manufaktur Kreasi in Boyolali regency, Central Java, has started producing Esemka cars, which made headlines in 2012 because they were developed by a vocational school (SMK) in Surakarta.
Dozens of pickup trucks were seen parked recently at the company’s factory in Demangan subdistrict, Sambi district. Several people were also seen conducting activities in the area, something that had not been done for months.
The factory stands on 14 hectares of land belonging to the subdistrict administration and is located far from residential areas. According to the witnesses, it only started operating a few months ago.
The company is very secretive about the activities taking place there because no official statement were released. Journalists were not allowed into the factory and photographers were barred from taking pictures.
Demangan subdistrict head Wijiyanto said he had visited the factory twice but found no activities there. “Until now, I know nothing about the factory,” he added.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo promoted Esemka as his official car during his term as Surakarta mayor.
The Esemka car came under spotlight again when Jokowi’s running mate, Ma’ruf Amin, recently said that mass production of the vehicles would start in October. The announcement caused a stir among opposition parties, coming so soon ahead of the 2019 presidential election.
Jokowi later stressed on his Instagram account @jokowi on Oct. 25 that the government was not involved in the production of the cars, and that the automotive industry was fully responsible for developing the cars.
Boyolali Regent Seno Samodro said the company had invested Rp 2.1 trillion (US$140.42 million) in the factory when construction started in 2016.
“It is for sure located in Boyolali, but I do not follow its activities,” he added.
Demangan administration secretary Suyamto said the company had rented the plot for 30 years from the subdistrict administration for Rp 1,000 per square meter.
“The total payment for the first three years was Rp 114 million and it is renewed every three year,” Suyamto added.
Sukiyat, a businessman who sponsored the Esemka car, said he was also uninvolved in the vehicle’s production in Boyolali. He also called on people not to blame Jokowi or himself, saying that “the moment for the Esemka has passed”.
“I produced the Esemka just to transfer knowledge to SMK students,” he added. “I am now focusing on the Mahesa rural vehicle. I want rural people to improve their productivity.”
Sukiyat was referring to truckmaker Kiat Mahesa Wintor Indonesia (KMWI) of which he is president commissioner.
KMWI produces a light pickup truck called the AMMdes, which is part of an Industry Ministry-sponsored program to provide more affordable means of transportation for rural people.
With an engine volume of 500 cc, the truck can transport agricultural goods of up to 700 kilograms and it can also be used as a mobile rice miller.
In the initial stage, KMWI will produce 3,000 to 6,000 AMMdes per year until the end of next year. The production capacity will be increased from 12,000 to 15,000 units in 2020. With a price of about Rp 70 million per unit, the AMMdes is far cheaper than regular light pickup trucks, which cost at least Rp 125 million each.