The Jakarta Post
The first segment of rail track was laid in Barru regency, South Sulawesi, the country's biggest rice center, on Friday, in a ceremony marking the construction of the first railway network linking key cities in the resource-rich province.
The ceremony, attended by South Sulawesi Governor Syahrul Yasin Limpo and the Transportation Ministry's director general of railways, Hermanto Dwi Atmoko, kicked-off construction of the proposed 145 kilometer railway line connecting the province's capital Makassar with port city Parepare.
'By 2018, we expect South Sulawesi to be covered with fully-operational train services, providing much-needed transport for people and goods,' Hermanto said.
He explained that the first phase of the construction would link Barru with the port city of Parepare so that agricultural produce from the regency could be easily transported to other islands in Indonesia.
President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo is slated to visit the construction site at the end of the month. The historical undertaking will see the entire of Sulawesi covered by railway services from Makassar to Manado in North Sulawesi, according to Hermanto.
South Sulawesi is known to be among the country's biggest sources of rice, sugar, coffee, cattle and nickel but, due to a lack of transportation, goods distribution has been limited.
'The railway network will help to lower logistics costs and expand distribution channels for our goods. Goods shipment to ports will be much faster and cheaper,' said Governor Syahrul.
According to Hermanto, the Makassar-Parepare railway project was financed by the central government, with the exception of land acquisition for the initial 30 km stretch of the first phase, which is to be paid for by the South Sulawesi provincial administration and the Barry regency administration.
The network will cover 25 stations in five cities and regencies; Makassar, Maros, Pangkajene, Barru and Parepare.
The central government has earmarked more than Rp 1 trillion (US$77 million) from the state budget for the rail development project.
Most of this funding will be used to import rail tracks from Japan. Other parts required for the railway construction are to be sourced locally.
The locomotive procurement is expected to involve the private sector and state enterprises.
Syahrul said that 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 those residents whose land would be used for the railway line.
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