Sat, 25 Mar 2000

Corruption suspected in toll road construction

JAKARTA (JP): An official at state-owned toll road operator PT Jasa Marga said on Friday he suspected irregularities in 20 out of 100 toll road construction contract agreements.

"Most of the projects did not pass the required procedures when appointing the investors. A joint government team is focusing the investigation on seven out of the 20 projects that are suspected of causing the biggest losses to the state," Frans S. Sunito, the commercial and development director of Jasa Marga, said as quoted by Antara.

Frans said two of the seven toll road projects were the Cawang-Tanjung Priok and the Tanjung Priok-Jembatan Tiga/Harbour toll roads, both of which were constructed by private toll road operator PT Citra Marga Nusaphala Persada (CMNP), with a 30-year repayment period (1994-2023) and investment values reaching Rp 1.2 trillion.

Siti Hardiyanti Indra Rukmana, the eldest daughter of former president Soeharto, holds a 2.92 percent stake in CMNP.

Others are the Kebon Jeruk-Pondok Pinang toll road, constructed by PT Citra Mataram Satria Persada, with a 35-year repayment period (1996-2031) and an investment value of Rp 708 billion; the Cikunir-Cakung-Cilincing-Tanjung Priok toll road, built by PT Citra Bhakti Margatama Persada, with a 33-year repayment period (1995-2028) and an investment value of Rp 1.098 trillion; the Cikampek-Padalarang toll road construction by PT Citra Ganesha Marga Nusantara, with a 27-year repayment period (1995-2022) and an investment value of Rp 1.296 trillion; the widening of the Kebon Jeruk-West Tangerang toll road by PT Adhika Prakarsatama, with an 18-year repayment period (1994-2022) and an investment value of Rp 108 billion; and the widening of the Cawang-Cibitung toll road by PT Bangun Tjipta Sarana with a 25- year repayment period (1994-2019) and an investment value of Rp 242 billion.

Frans specifically questioned suspected irregularities in the contract agreement between PT Jasa Marga and CMNP.

"The agreement said PT Jasa Marga would be held responsible for settling PT CMNP's construction fund loans to the creditors, once the agreements was dropped," he said.

Frans said the agreement stated that the width of the harbour road should be 3.5 meters, but CMNP had only constructed the toll road to a width of 3.25 meters.

He cited another irregularity in the widening projects of the Cawang-Cibitung and the Kebon Jeruk-West Tangerang roads.

"The investors obtained share revenues from the toll roads before the projects were completed," he said.

He said PT Jasa Marga also bore the burden of contingent liabilities proposed by investors of the Cikunir-Tanjung Priok and the Kebon Jeruk-Pondok Pinang toll, which forced the state- owned company to pay the deficit on the appropriation of the project's land.

Frans said the joint team had been investigating for suspected corrupt and nepotistic practices during the construction and operation of the 110 toll road projects for the past eight months.

The team comprises of officials from, among others PT Jasa Marga, the finance ministry and the State Ministry of Public Works.

Besides the investigation, starting last August the government has given the investors the opportunity to renegotiate the contracts with the government.

A renegotiation team was formed in August last year, comprising of officials from PT Jasa Marga, the finance ministry and the State Ministry of Public Works. The renegotiation is aimed at settling irregularities over the contracts through arbitration.

State Minister of Public Works Rozik Boedioro Soetjipto said the state ministry would give the investors until this March at the latest to settle the problems.

"If it can't be settled by March, the government may bring the case to court," he warned the investors.

Frans said the investors would never be ready to bear the losses.

"They are sticking with the agreement, while we want some parts of the agreement -- the parts which have brought losses to the state -- to be modified," he said.

He added the investors had given a cold response to a Rp 200 billion claim filed by the government to them.

Teddy Kharsadi, the president director of CMNP, said the company was ready to face a trial in the court.

"The company has constructed and operated the toll road in line with the agreement," he said, adding that the agreement was legal. (asa)