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Jakarta Post

Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway project delayed amid pandemic

  • Dzulfiqar Fathur Rahman

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, April 15, 2020   /   02:40 pm
Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway project delayed amid pandemic KCIC workers examine a tunnel that is a part of the Jakarta-Bandung high speed railway in this undated photo. (Courtesy of/KCIC)

Construction on the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway project is expected to be delayed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a high-ranking government official has said.

Railway developer PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC), a joint venture between Indonesian and Chinese railway companies, initially planned to finish the project and start operations in 2021.

“The target must be rescheduled because the construction is suspended right at the moment. There are only a few activities so it will definitely be delayed,” acting transportation minister Luhut Pandjaitan told reporters in an online briefing on Tuesday evening.

Read also: SOE Ministry demands assessment of halted high-speed railway project

Luhut, who also serves as the coordinating maritime affairs and investment minister, said the development of the project would depend on the situation of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

The government reported more than 4,800 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday afternoon. Of those, 459 patients died of the highly contagious disease, while 426 people have recovered.

To curb the outbreak, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo called on the public in mid-March to implement social distancing measures by studying, working and praying at home. The provincial administration in Jakarta, which has become the national epicenter of the outbreak, recently introduced large-scale social restrictions that have suspended school, office, religious and public activities for 14 days.

Chinese workers wanting to return to work on the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway project should abide by the health and safety protocols, said Luhut.

The Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway project is one of the government's national strategic projects (PSN) in the transportation sector and is expected to need a total investment of US$6.07 billion.

Read also: 2019 marks new era in Indonesian transportation system

The Law and Human Rights Ministry issued in late March a regulation offering an exemption for foreigners working on national strategic projects from the temporary ban on foreign arrivals and transits. The ban is set to last until the government declares an end to the outbreak.

“We are still making an evaluation,” said Luhut. “We are still calculating the cost of the delays to the project.”

The railway project will serve four main stations: Halim in Jakarta, Karawang in West Java and Walini and Tegaluar in Bandung regency. The trains will travel at 350 kilometers per hour, cutting the travel time between Jakarta and Bandung to 45 minutes, faster than the approximately three hours on the existing train.