The Jakarta Post
The central government will start the construction of a 143-km railway line from Makassar to Parepare, both cities in South Sulawesi, in early July and will buy the tracks direct from China, an official has confirmed.
Director General of Railways of the Transportation Ministry Hermanto Dwi Atmoko said the local administrations had committed to complete land acquisition for an initial 30-km stretch of land by June.
'We will commence building the railway line in early July, upon the completion of acquisition of private land needed for the railway line,' Hermanto said during a meeting with South Sulawesi Governor Syahrul Yasin Limpo, the regency administrations through which the railway will pass, local transportation offices, the National Land Agency and other relevant agencies, at the gubernatorial office in Makassar on Monday.
Hermanto said the government had also decided to import railway tracks from China for delivery in September.
'We hope the project will run smoothly with noticeable progress by August, because President Joko [Jokowi] Widodo is expected to see the track laying,' said Hermanto, adding that the initial phase of the 30-km railway section would begin in Barru regency.
The next stage of the project will resume next year, when a line stretching 70 km and then 43 km will be built.
The project is projected to be complete by the end of 2017. However, the railway line will begin operating in 2018, when the procurement of locomotives has been realized.
'The procurement process will take two years because the tracks for the Trans-Sulawesi line are wider than that in Java, so the train capacity is bigger and can travel at a higher speed,' said Hermanto.
The locomotive procurement is expected to involve the private sector and state enterprises.
After the Makassar-Parepare railway line is completed, the project will resume to the north, specifically to Manado, North Sulawesi, which is scheduled to be complete in the next five years.
The project will then be carried on to the south, from Barru to Bone regency, as well as from Makassar city to Gowa and Takalar regencies.
Hermanto said the Makassar-Parepare railway project was financed by the central government, except land acquisition for the 30-km stretch in the first phase, which would be covered by the South Sulawesi provincial administration and Barry regency administration.
The central government has earmarked more than Rp 1 trillion (US$77 million) from the state budget, for the project.
'The project, including procurement of tracks and land acquisition for the remaining 115 km, is being covered by the central government,' said Hermanto.
Separately, Syahrul pointed out that the land acquisition would be completed as soon as possible, because the National Land Agency and Transportation Ministry had already measured the land and obtained approval from residents whose land would be used for the project.
'Land acquisition might be completed sooner. We have scheduled the ground-breaking ceremony to take place in June and attended by President Jokowi,' said Syahrul.