Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan - Photo: the Ministry.

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – China’ state-owned railway constructor, China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) has stated its intention to participate in working on the Jakarta-Surabaya railroad project, an official said on Monday (09/2). The project, earlier, was planned to be worked on by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to begin construction of the project by the middle of next year.

“China Railway wants to invest in the Jakarta-Surabaya railroad projects. I said anyone please come in,” the coordinating minister for maritime affairs, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, told reporters after meeting with CRCC’ Chairman Chen Fenjian at his office in Jakarta.

The minister adds he has told CRCC that the government wants the Jakarta-Surabaya medium-speed train will start operating at the end of 2022. It’s expected to sign later this year a memorandum of understanding with JICA, a Tokyo-based development assistance fund, and begin the project by the middle of next year.

It’s just that, he said, if CRCC could provide a better offer with technology that was also good, the government could have given another consideration.

“I told them Japan has also entered. But if you (CRCC) have a better offer, good technology, yes we will have a look too. But Japan (JICA) is already advanced,” he said.

The retired general said China’s interest in the Jakarta-Surabaya railroad project has been a long time. However, Pandjaitan was reluctant to say if China’s offer would shift Japan to work on the mass transportation project.

“Until now we are still with Japan, but they must know that there are still those who are bidding on the project. So don’t make any mistakes,” the minister said adding that the company also offered a number of investments such as providing low-cost housing for low-income people in Jonggol, West Java, and developing technology for public transportation in prospective new capitals in East Kalimantan.

Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi told reporters in Jakarta days ago that the JICA, a Tokyo-based development assistance fund, was in the middle of completing a comprehensive feasibility study on the train project, which is estimated to take two years to construct and then six months to test before becoming operational in late 2022.

Railtrack construction, he continued, would involve two phases whereby the first phase will build a new rail track from Jakarta to Semarang while the second phase will upgrade the existing rail track from Semarang to Surabaya.

“It’s like how they made the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). They took a while but we were satisfied with the results because the preparations were well done,” he said after a meeting with Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan.

He added that JICA estimated the project to cost Rp90 trillion (US$6.33 billion) in total but the government would try to keep the price tag below Rp60 trillion. JICA would provide the loans while the government provides the land.

“The investment fund will be used for the construction of the new Jakarta-Semarang railroad. While the Semarang to Surabaya line will use the old rails with reinforcement,” he said. Loans are indeed provided from them, but the land is from us. But there is not much land, only parts that have bends or uphill and this will certainly be released by the Lembaga Manajemen Aset Negara (LMAN), he adds.

The medium-speed train will have average speeds of between 140 and 145 kilometers per hour (kph) with a top speed of 160 kph but the important point, said the minister, was that it could cover Jakarta to Surabaya in less than six hours.

For Indonesia, JICA has prepared $881.15 million in financing for the country’s infrastructure projects, said JICA Indonesia Office Chief Representative Shinichi Yamanaka month ago. Indonesia’s first-ever MRT is one of those undertakings.

He explained that JICA will give further funding for phase two MRT development. The phase two of the project is estimated to value Rp22.5 trillion. Yamanaka is also positive about the MRT development will be on Japan as Indonesia Vice President Jusuf Kalla stated that the MRT will be extended to 200 kilometers in the next 10 years.

Besides, JICA will also give partial financing for the Rp43.2 trillion Patimban Port in Subang district, West Java. The soon-to-be one of Indonesia’s most sophisticated port is going to have 7.5 million teus capacity of containers and 600,000 Completely Built-Up (CBU) vehicles. The progress has only been completed about a dozen percent, while it is expected to start operating by the end of 2019.

US$1=Rp14.200

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com