The Jakarta Post
City-owned transportation company PT MRT Jakarta has had to once again extend the deadline for a tender on the supplier for railway systems and track work for phase 2 of the MRT line in Jakarta, as no Japanese construction firms have submitted any proposal.
The phase 2 development, valued at Rp 22.5 trillion (US$ 1.53 billion), is being funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Under the scheme, only Japanese companies are eligible to apply as the main contractors for each package of the construction phase.
MRT Jakarta construction director Silvia Halim recently said the company had yet to receive any proposals from potential bidders by the Oct. 26 deadline.
The firm then decided to extend the deadline for another two weeks until next Monday. This is the fifth extension since the tender first opened on June 16.
“We can only extend for a maximum of two weeks because a longer extension would result in uncertainties in the project’s schedule,” Silvia told journalists in a virtual interview last week.
Construction of the 6.3-kilometer line in phase 2 of the capital’s MRT project is broken down into several contract packages, including the ongoing construction of a 2.8-km tunnel from the Bundaran HI to Monas MRT stations in Central Jakarta, dubbed CP201.
The second package – CP202 – will extend from Harmoni to Mangga Besar stations, while CP203 completes the route from Glodok to the final stop, Kota.
Other construction packages to be offered include railway systems and track work (CP205) and the procurement of railway vehicles also known as rolling stock (CP206).
The section facing possible postponement due to a lack of contractor proposals is the tunnel connecting Harmoni and Mangga Besar, which would potentially set back phase 2 operations to August 2027. Phase 2 was initially expected to commence by the end of 2024.
“More delays may also raise the cost of the project significantly,” Silvia said. She emphasized that a delay until 2027 was the maximum allowed under the loan agreement with JICA.
Dealing with the technical complexities of the underground section, especially during a prolonged COVID-19 outbreak, had potential bidders hesitant to get involved, MRT Jakarta president director William Sabandar said, noting that Japanese firms were “too conservative and not ready to take risks”.
To speed up the stalled tendering process for the railway system and track work, high-level dialogue was underway between the two governments, Silvia said.
Should the Japanese firms fail to meet the extended bidding deadline, and if uncertainty over the project persists, the firm would open its doors for the involvement of non-Japanese contractors, with Silvia saying that in a worst-case scenario, other loans could be sought out to replace the Japanese arrangement.
A number of international firms from China, South Korea and the United Kingdom had expressed their interest, she said.
“[Jakarta MRT] is not merely a commercial project but a symbol of cooperation between the two countries. There has to be a commitment and political willingness from Japan as the lender,” the MRT Jakarta official said.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, during his visit to Indonesia on Oct. 20, said that his government would enhance cooperation associated with infrastructure projects in Indonesia.