State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Minister Rini Soemarno has seen the light at the end of the tunnel for the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway project after witnessing the completion of one of the project’s most arduous tasks: the Walini Tunnel.
The Walini tunnel, a 608-meter tunnel in Bandung, West Java, is the first tunnel out of 13 others to be completed along the 142-kilometer railway route.
Rini expressed optimism during the inauguration on 14 May 19, saying that China-funded project could be completed by 2021.
She claimed the project would reach 59% progress by the end of 2019 and it now stood at 17%.
In 2018, the Indonesia-China consortium, PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC), the investor, had a tough time picking up speed on the project after facing land procurement issues.
Now, KCIC president director Chandra Dwiputra said the company had acquired 96% of the land needed for the railway and said the remainder would be acquired by mid-2019.
Chandra promised the company would gradually increase its workforce from 6,000 to 10,000 in the next few months to achieve its targets and make up for the delay.
He also attributed difficult soil conditions and poor weather conditions as some of the roadblocks but claimed to be addressing them through various measures.
He gave assurances that his team was making progress and were expecting to finish another tunnel in Purwakarta, West Java, by the end of 2019. The trial run for the Tunnel Boring Machine in its Jakarta counterpart is also underway.
As of 14 May 19, the project had used 25% or USD1bn of its USD4.5bn loan from the China Development Bank (CDB), Chandra added. The loan is 75% of KCIC’s investment of USD6.07bn as the remaining will come in the form of equity from KCIC and shareholders PSBI and Beijing Yawan HSR Co.
With the gradual disbursement of the funds, the company will connect all structures by 2020 between stations and trains will be on the tracks by early 2021, Chandra projected.
But University of Indonesia transportation expert Alvinsyah argued the ambitious target was merely to motivate stakeholders, which could take a toll if its operators fail to plan the construction properly.
He cited the LRT project in Palembang, South Sumatra, as an example of the repercussions of rushed decisions, causing the operators a IDR9mn loss per month because of a shortage of passengers given the lack of awareness about the transportation system.
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