The Jakarta Post
The construction of Jakarta's first mass rapid transit (MRT) has entered the phase of underground drilling with President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo officiating the launch of the first tunnel boring machine on Monday.
Jokowi, who named the machine after strong Javanese puppet figure Antareja, expressed relief that the MRT construction had eventually proceeded to this stage after the project was postponed for 26 years.
'Alhamdulillah [Praise God], we currently see that the project is going well, along with good traffic management,' said Jokowi, praising the MRT builders, particularly the Japanese parties, for their work constructing MRT stations and tunnels without causing heavy traffic.
Jokowi said that the MRT would never make a profit, but that the public would benefit greatly from the mass transportation system. He said the loss would be balanced by subsidies funded by the planned electronic road pricing (ERP) on Jakarta's main thoroughfares.
Involving Indonesian constructing companies Wijaya Karya, Jaya Konstruksi and Hutama Karya, and Japanese companies Tokyu, Shimizu, Obayashi and Mitsui-Sumitomo, the projects railway tracks are set to run from Lebak Bulus bus station in South Jakarta to Hotel Indonesia Traffic Circle in Central Jakarta. It will comprise seven elevated stations from Blok M in South Jakarta to Lebak Bulus, and six underground stations from Senayan in South Jakarta, to Hotel Indonesia traffic circle.
The Antareja machine, which was produced in Japan, would work on two MRT railway tunnels from Senayan transition station, near Pemuda Membangun statue, to Setiabudi underground station, project manager for Senayan-Setiabudi track Osako Kazuya said at a separate press conference on Friday.
He added that aside from Antareja, the Senayan-Setiabudi tunnels would actually be built by another boring machine, which was still being assembled. The second machine will begin its operations next month.
Antareja and the other machine, he added, would work both on excavating soil and installing sediment pieces on the tunnels, which were about 6 meters wide and 3 km long.
'With these machines, we will finish constructing the tunnels within a year and a half,' said Osako, adding that the machines would not have an effect on surrounding areas.
On the same day, MRT Jakarta president director Dono Boestami said that 43 percent of the underground and 18 percent of the elevated construction was completed.
It had made such progress as there were currently no obstacles, such as land acquisition disputes, in the way he added.
In August, Jakarta Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama said that his administration still had to close the deal on acquiring 16 percent of land needed for MRT and had allocated Rp 600 billion for it.
Dono said construction would continue whether the land had been acquired or not, as Ahok had pledged to solve the problems.
He added that MRT Jakarta was currently in the process of procuring an engineering consultant to work on a feasibility study of the next track, which is from Hotel Indonesia traffic cirle to Kampung Bandan in North Jakarta. The study is hoped to start in the beginning of 2016 and finish within a year. The next track could be built by 2017, he added.
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