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Jakarta Post

Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway progresses by 64%, completes drilling of fifth tunnel

  • Riska Rahman

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, December 17, 2020   /   02:44 pm
Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway progresses by 64%, completes drilling of fifth tunnel Underground: A worker walks inside Tunnel 1 of the Jakarta-Bandung high speed railway project in Pondok Gede, Bekasi, West Java, on Tuesday. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

Railway developer PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC), a joint venture between Indonesian and Chinese companies,  has announced that the construction of the widely anticipated Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway has reached 63.9 percent, amid delays due to the pandemic. 

The company wrapped up the drilling of a tunnel, called Tunnel 1, which spans 1.8 kilometers and is located under the Jakarta-Cikampek toll road that connects Jakarta with Bekasi, West Java.

The most recent tunnel drilling completion rounds up the number of finished tunnels to five, according to KCIC president director Chandra Dwiputra in a statement on Tuesday.

“With this tunnel completion, our tunnel drilling work progress has reached 74.94 percent of the total train tunnel length of 16 km,” Chandra said.

He also added that that the company aimed to complete the drilling of two other tunnels over the next two months.

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

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 travel time between Jakarta and Bandung to 45 minutes, faster than the approximately three hours on the existing train service.

Before the pandemic struck the country, construction of the railway had faltered because of various challenges.

The Public Works and Housing Ministry demanded that the project’s construction be halted for two weeks in March, citing the project’s poor drainage system that caused flooding on the Jakarta-Cikampek toll road. The project also faced land acquisition issues, among others.

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

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo also floated the idea of involving Japan, which had been outbid by China, in the high-speed railway project, as the government reviewed the prolonged delays and budget overruns in the construction.

These challenges, on top of the pandemic, then caused KCIC to push back its completion and operation target to the second half of 2021 from the initial target of June 2021, a two-year delay from its original target.

KCIC’s Chandra stated that as for the elevated structure of the railway, the company had also erected 1,741 piers along the Jakarta-Bandung railway.

Meanwhile, more than 12,000 rail rods measuring 50 meters are in the process of being shipped gradually from China, he added.

State-owned construction firm PT Wijaya Karya, which owns the majority of stake in Indonesian consortium PT Pilar Sinergi BUMN Indonesia, also stated that the project had fallen short of its 70 percent completion target for this year.

“There were many obstacles, one of them being the pandemic,” Wika corporate secretary Mahendra Vijaya told The Jakarta Post via text message on Wednesday.

Wika disbursed a shareholder loan in October to PT Pilar Sinergi BUMN Indonesia of Rp 645.83 billion ($45.8 million) due after 12 months, according to Wika’s statement to the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX).

With the loan, Wika has disbursed an accumulated Rp 4.63 trillion since December 2015 to support the project.

Meanwhile, Coordinating Maritime and Investment Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said the high-speed railway project was important as it marked a turning point in the modernization of the  public transportation system.

“[The high-speed railway project] could be the modern mass transportation system that could solve our mobility needs,” he said in a statement.

Wika’s shares, listed on the IDX under the ticker code WIKA, traded on Thursday at 12:18 p.m. at Rp 1,985, up 9.97 percent from the previous trading day. The stocks have lost 0.25 percent of their value since the beginning of the year.