Environmental report key to subway's future
By Novan Iman Santosa
JAKARTA (JP): The fate of the proposed mass rapid transit (MRT) project for the capital will be announced at the end of this year, with results of the environmental impact analysis to be a major deciding factor, an official said on Wednesday.
"We will wait for the Amdal (environmental impact analysis) report before making the final decision. The Amdal study will start next week," the Ministry of Communications' Director General for Land Transportation Santo Budiono said on the sidelines of a seminar on urban rail systems.
Santo said the Japanese government would finance the conducting of the Amdal and the design of the planned subway was completed.
"We really need this project to help lessen traffic congestion in the city along the subway route," he said.
"Such a mass rapid transit system is a must in Jakarta because there are about 12 million residents traveling every day. The sooner we implement the project, the better."
According to a rough estimation made by the city administration, the subway project will save the capital annual losses of US$900 million caused by traffic jams.
"The Japanese government wishes to start the project as soon as we acquire the analysis results," Santo added, while refusing to disclose the estimated budget for the subway project.
He explained that the budget would be taken from the Miyazawa Plan and Special Yen Loan program, both provided by the Japanese government.
Tokyo gave its commitment to finance the project by promising a special yen loan at a 7.5 percent annual interest rate. The loan will have a maturity period of 40 years and a grace period of 10 years.
The memorandum of understanding on the project was signed in 1995 between the Indonesian government, the city administration and an Indonesian-Japanese-European consortium.
However, the regionwide economic contagion which struck the country beginning in mid-1997 led to the postponement of the project.
B.J. Habibie, during his presidency from May 1998 to October 1999, agreed to continue the project and asked the Japanese government to disburse the loan.
But the plan was opposed by the World Bank. In a letter, its Indonesian country director Dennis de Tray asked the Indonesian government to review the project.
Several other groups argued the government should not carry out the giant project during a time of hardship.
Under the initial proposal, the project would connect the Fatmawati area in South Jakarta and the Kota Railway Station in West Jakarta.
The first stage of the project would span from Fatmawati to the National Monument (Monas) park in Central Jakarta, with an initial budget of some $1.5 billion.
The project was also set to include an elevated track from Fatmawati to Senayan, with the possibility of it being extended to Dukuh Atas. The track would be routed through a subway to the Monas Park.
In the second stage, the project would pass through the Monas park to Harmoni and Kota railway station, with all the tracks probably underground.
The seminar was organized by the Ministry of Communications and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at President Hotel in Central Jakarta.
Santo said Jakarta and other big cities across the country would soon need adequate MRT systems for growing populations in urban areas.
"We expect that by 2010 about 50 percent of Indonesia's residents will live in urban areas. That's why we need the MRT system in the cities," he said.
During the meeting, the ministry's director of railways, Mardio Wibowo, spoke on Indonesian urban railways and the current operation of the railway system in the greater Jakarta area (Jabotabek).
However, he refused to give more details on the Jabotabek railway development, saying he lacked such authority.
Another official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, revealed the next double track project would link Jakarta and Serpong, west of the capital.
"The French government will finance it under a special loan," the official said on the condition of anonymity.
The second speaker was Iskandar Abubakar, the ministry's director of urban traffic and transportation system development, who discussed an urban rail-MRT system in Indonesia.
Japanese industrialists, who also presented their papers at the seminar, mostly shared their experiences in their respective subway construction projects and other forms of MRT systems in Asian countries, such as Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore.
The speakers included representatives of Mitsui & Co. Ltd. and Kawasaki Steel, Obayashi Corporation, Sumitomo Corporation and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kumagai Gumi.
Unfortunately, most of the Indonesian officials attending the seminar left the room before the Japanese representatives delivered their presentations. (nvn)