Andi presses on for Hambalang project, despite irregularities
Undeterred by public scrutiny of the corruption surrounding the construction of the sports center in Hambalang, West Java, Youth and Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng says he will go ahead with the Rp 1.52 trillion (US$166 million) project.
Apparently ignoring the results of a previous geologic survey, part of the land upon which the center is being built subsided last week, causing damage to some buildings still under construction.
Andi has tried to portray himself as disconnected from the project, which is currently under investigation by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
“If there are irregularities in the project, be it during its planning or execution, there should be people held responsible, whoever they are,” Andi told reporters on Wednesday.
So far, the KPK has named no suspects, despite questioning more than 60 people since it opened its preliminary investigation into corruption surrounding the construction in August. Andi has twice been summoned by KPK investigators .
During the trial of former Democratic Party treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin for another graft scandal in February, lawmaker Mahyuddin testified that he once heard Andi thank Nazaruddin for telling the minister that the land certificate for Hambalang project was ready.
Statements given by witnesses at trial were not the only indications of irregularities in the project.
Irdham Alamsyah of Yodha Karya, a construction consultant for the sports center, alleged that the project developers did not complete a thorough study of the project site, including a soil study.
“We should differentiate the building-construction study from the aerial-construction study... We have done the building construction study. Now we ask the ministry to conduct an aerial study if they want the construction to last a long time,” he said.
When talking to reporters on Wednesday, Andi maintained that the project was essential.
“The desire to improve Indonesia’s performance in sports is enormous. One of the ways to meet those expectation is by constructing infrastructure to train athletes,” he said.
Meanwhile, Youth and Sports Ministry secretary Yuli Mumpuni said the project was planned in 2003 by the sports directorate of the National Education Ministry, now the Education and Culture Ministry.
The project was later handed over to the Youth and Sports Ministry when it was under Adhyaksa Dault.
During Adhyaksa’s tenure as minister, the project was budgeted at Rp 125 billion.
After 2009, when Andi took over, the budget was reported at Rp 1.175 trillion.
Adhyaksa has questioned why a construction project was undertaken in the area, describing the underlying land as too unstable.
Under Adhyaksa’s watch, the ministry only authorized the construction of a modest school for sports, instead of a sports complex, after geologists warned them that the 38-hectare plot in Hambalang was “unsuitable” for such a large development.