The Jakarta Post
Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan declined to be called defiant of President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's orders, although the minister's strict compliance to regulations is prolonging one of the President's priority projects: the China-backed Jakarta-Bandung high-speed train.
Jonan said Thursday that there would still be a 'long way to go' for the country's first-ever high-speed railway to start construction because of a stack of impending paperwork, including revisions to the development plan, even after Jokowi officially broke ground for the US$5.5 billion project in January.
'We just try to manage. Because the building permit is a technical evaluation, we need to have complete data and to evaluate it together, to understand the risk and the rail development structure,' Jonan said, dismissing the notion that the ministry has been unsupportive of the President's priority project.
The Indonesian-Chinese joint venture, PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC), has not yet bagged three permits from the ministry required to get construction going, namely a concession agreement, a railway infrastructure operational permit and a construction permit.
The consortium, which consists of China Railway Corporation and four Indonesian state firms, will still need to revise the project's feasibility study, investment plan, expected passenger demand and design, according to ministry information.
It will also need to resolve disagreements on concession clauses, as well as revise details on the civil work and plan for the development of transit-oriented development (TOD), the information shows. The company's financial document will need to be audited by an independent auditor, most likely by PT Sucofindo Advisory Utama.
The feasibility study needs to be revised because KCIC has foreseen a potential for lower passenger numbers and it has shortened the length of the track.
On passenger demand, KCIC brought up the possibility of lower passenger numbers of 29,000 per day, although it previously targeted 51,000 passengers riding daily on the high-speed train when it starts operating in 2019.
'If they think the passenger numbers will be 29,000 daily, the feasibility study needs to be revised as well,' Jonan said.
On investment value, the minister demanded a revision of the US$5.5 billion value because the railway route, which would meet four stations, including in Karawang and Halim, has been shortened to 142.3 kilometers from the 152.3 kilometers it was previously and it will not be passing through Gambir Station in Jakarta, as originally planned.
The Transportation Ministry also required KCIC to establish an earthquake early warning system and conduct a comprehensive seismology study, as the railway tracks are estimated to pass through four earthquake-prone areas, including Lembang, Baribis and Cimandiri in West Java.
The long list of demands from the ministry to the consortium continues, as the company is required to set a date for the railway's operation after the ministry finally granted KCIC's request to get the 50-year concession to start when the railway begins operating instead of when the concession is signed.
'For example, we give them 50 years from a certain date when they can commit to operate. Otherwise, the construction will just drag on,' Jonan said.
The ministry will not grant another KCIC request that would have established 50-kilometer buffer zones around the high-speed rail stations to exclude other rail projects, instead proposing to only set up 25-kilometer zones around the stations to support other government projects.
Contacted separately, KCIC president director Hanggoro Budi Wiryawan admitted that the company had yet to finish revisions of the new feasibility study to be submitted to the government, although the documents have all been handed over.
'All administrative documents for construction permits have been done and we hope to see the permits issued as soon as possible,' Hanggoro said.
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