First high-speed train project on track
The Jakarta Post
The government's plan to kick off the construction of the country's first high-speed rail link later this month is on track as all the preparations except some paperwork have been completed, transportation officials have said.
Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan said Wednesday that the Indonesian-Chinese joint venture PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC), which would build and operate the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, had fulfilled all requirements, including getting recommendations from the regional administrations of the areas passed by the train.
Because of such progress, he had issued a permit for the train routes, which are mostly located in West Java, Jonan said. 'The next step for the joint venture is to request the operational permit,' he said, adding that the company would be unlikely to face problems obtaining such a permit because it had already fulfilled the minimum capital requirement of Rp 1 trillion (US$72.3 million).
KCIC has already obtained as much as Rp 1.18 trillion for the required capital, sourced from an Indonesian state enterprises consortium and China Railway.
'I only need a statement letter from the firm that the capital will not be retrieved, but I think it's just an administration thing; no problem,' Jonan said, adding that he would sign the permit on Thursday if the joint venture could make such a statement.
Jonan revealed that the only document still being awaited by the ministry was the Environmental Impact Analysis (Amdal), an important requirement for the approval of the joint venture's engineering design for the high-speed train project.
Jonan also said that the company needed to first acquire the approval for its engineering design before breaking ground, which is expected to take place on Jan. 21.
The ministry's director general for railways, Hermanto Dwiatmoko, separately said that the ministry would assist the approval process. 'We will work on it as long as they have completed the requirement. We'll see how it goes,' Hermanto said.
Construction for the high-speed train service, which will run at more than 250 kilometers per hour on a 142-kilometer-long track, is supposed to begin in 2016 and be finished by 2018. It is set to start operations in early 2019. It will serve four stations between Jakarta and Bandung in its first phase: Halim, Karawang, Walini and Tegalluar.
KCIC has been chosen to build the high-speed train project, which it is estimated will cost about US$5.5 billion.
KCIC itself is a joint venture between Indonesian state firms PT Wijaya Karya, PT KAI, PT Jasa Marga and PT Perkebunan Nusantara VIII with the China Railway International Co. Ltd.
China secured the project in Southeast Asia's largest economy after Indonesian officials rejected Japan's requirement for the government to guarantee loans.
The project was deemed significant for President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo who pledged to improve the country's infrastructure to boost the economy.
The government has also issued Presidential Regulation No. 107/2015 on the acceleration of infrastructure for the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway project, in its bid to expedite the process.
The President's meeting about the project on Jan. 4, which was also attended by Vice President Jusuf Kalla and West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan, among others, scheduled the groundbreaking ceremony for Jan. 21.
Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said he also hoped that the approval for the project's engineering designs could be issued on Jan. 14 or Jan. 15 so that the groundbreaking could be carried out according to schedule.
'Everything is still under process, but it is on the right track,' KCIC president director Hanggoro Budi Wiryawan said in a text message.
Voicing a similar optimism, PT KAI president director Edi Sukmoro said that he expected that the train would start operations on time. 'I still expect it to operate in 2019,' Edi said.
He said that the Amdal document was currently handled by an independent consultant and would finish soon. KAI contributed Rp 125 billion of the required capital, according to Edi.
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