The Jakarta Post
President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo directly observed the initial construction stage of the Trans Sulawesi railway connecting Makassar and Parepare in Pekkae village, Barru regency, South Sulawesi, on Wednesday.
The President promised that he would provide additional funding of Rp 2 trillion (US$145.9 million) from the state budget for the railway project so that its construction could proceed as targeted.
'In the 2016 revised state budget, we will add additional funding of Rp 2 trillion,' said Jokowi.
The 145-kilometer railway connecting Makassar and Parepare, both in South Sulawesi, is expected to be complete and in operation by 2018.
The Transportation Ministry's director general for railways Hermanto Dwiatmoko said that in the 2016 state budget, the Trans-Sulawesi railway development funding amounted to only Rp 250 billion, which was too little and could hamper the project construction.
With an additional Rp 2 trillion, 100 km of track could be laid, he said.
According to the Transportation Ministry, the construction of the railway including the procurement of supporting facilities such as locomotives, railway cars, signals, stations and their maintenance amounts to around Rp 10.8 trillion.
This year, the budget disbursed amounts to Rp 1.5 trillion, comprising Rp 791 billion for reconstruction and railway cushion procurement, Rp 500 billion for the procurement of 200 km of rail track from Japan, and Rp 200 billion for the second stage of land clearance of 51 km from Barru to Parepare.
The railway will connect to Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport and Makassar New Port. It will later connect North Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, Gorontalo and West Sulawesi.
'Thank God, we've seen the construction of a railway from Makassar to Parepare and further to Manado. It is currently only 6 km long but we hope that next year, this railway will already connect to Parepare,' said Jokowi.
South Sulawesi Governor Syahrul Yasin Limpo said the railway for which South Sulawesi people had been longing for 60 years would be realized. The governor said he and all the people in the province fully supported the Trans-Sulawesi railway construction project, especially in land clearance-related matters. (ebf)