The Jakarta Post
National Development Planning Minister Andrinof Chaniago said on Monday that the government remained undecided over a plan to construct a high-speed rail-line between Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya.
Nevertheless, he said he had permitted China and Japan to conduct feasibility studies for the rail-line, as long as the government did not pay for the studies.
'The initiative to construct the link came from investors. Whether we need high-speed rail or not, the public should say,' Andrinof told reporters. 'If the investors see a potential market in the middle and upper classes, then they can conduct the study, as long as we don't have to allocate funds for it,' he continued.
He said that both China and Japan were eyeing the project and would be given an equal opportunity to win the right to construct the link.
'They've got an equal opportunity,' Andrinof told reporters. 'If they agree to cooperate, that would be great,' he continued.
During Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's presidency, the Indonesian and Japanese governments agreed to conduct a detailed feasibility study on adopting Japan's Shinkansen high-speed rail technology to connect Jakarta and Surabaya.
Soon after his appointment as minister, Andrinof stated that the new administration would not prioritize high-speed rail over the next five years, saying that it was unrealistic and that the government would concentrate on the development of standard railways, seaports and airports.
Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan added that no state funds should be allocated for high-speed rail, saying that infrastructure development in rural areas and the country's outermost islands was more important.
Bappenas' deputy chief for infrastructure Dedy S. Priatna separately said that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had completed the first phase of the study and that the agency had recommended that the government establish a state-owned enterprise to operate the new rail network.
According to JICA, the total investment needed to construct the rail is US$6.2 billion, with ideally 74 percent of the budget funded by the new state-owned company. The remaining 10 percent of the budget should be provided by the state budget and 16 percent should come from the private sector, in JICA's view.
Dedy said that China had begun the feasibility study and that it would be finished by the end of the year.
'According to the study conducted by JICA, the government should allocate state funds to support the project,' Dedy said recently. 'If the government does not want to allocate any money for the project, it should choose the study that does not entail funding from the state budget,' he continued.
Jonan also said that the government would not allocate any budget for the construction of the much-anticipated airport express railway connecting Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in East Jakarta and the country's main gateway Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten.
Jonan said that the ministry would appoint state-owned rail operator PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) as investor operator of the project, and ordain it to find a partner.
'We will ask KAI to construct the rail-line because we want the track to be integrated with the existing railway operated by KAI,' Jonan explained.
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