Tue, 21 Mar 2000

Legislators say put MRT project in gear

JAKARTA (JP): Governor Sutiyoso's wish to immediately start a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project in the capital won backing on Monday from members of the House of Representatives (DPR).

Burhan Djabir Magenda of the National Awakening Party (PKB) faction and Handjojo Putro of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) faction expressed their support for the project at a House commission meeting with six governors, including Sutiyoso.

The proposed MRT project, a combination of elevated track and subway, will connect the Fatmawati area in South Jakarta to Kota Railway Station in West Jakarta. Its first stage will connect Fatmawati to the National Monument (Monas) park in Central Jakarta.

The fate of the project will depend on its environmental impact analysis, which is expected to be completed later this year.

"I support the immediate construction of the project. Tehran already has it. Bangkok, Manila and Singapore are also constructing their own subways," Burhan told the meeting, while urging other legislators to join him in pushing the central government to start the project.

Handjojo said it was time Jakarta had its own MRT.

"If we don't start immediately, we will be left behind. Perhaps we'll be the only metropolis without a subway," he said.

To the legislators, Sutiyoso reiterated the project would give several advantages to the city.

"The project will lessen traffic congestion because it has a capacity to carry more than 50,000 passengers per hour. It will also provide employment opportunities for more than 60,000 construction workers," he said.

"Besides, the subway will also lessen pollution here."

Sutiyoso and the other governors were summoned by members of House Commission II for home and legal affairs to discuss the implementation of regional autonomy.

The Japanese government, which has committed to providing loans for the project, has also promised to use as much locally sourced materials as possible for the project, Sutiyoso said.

"Imagine, the project will need a large amount of cement and we have several cement factories here. We can also use steel produced by steel factories in Cilegon," he said.

"It will also provide opportunities for the dying state-owned train manufacturer PT INKA in Madiun."

He said the central government ranked the MRT project as the third priority for financing from the Miyazawa Plan and Special Yen Loan provided by the Japanese government.

"The first two priorities are to build a double track railway and to construct gas pipelines, respectively" Sutiyoso said, without giving details of the projects.

The governor appealed to legislators to call on the central government to put priority for the MRT project.

Interviewed separately after the meeting, Handjojo said: "We really need a subway now.

"It won't harm the cityscape like the existing Jabotabek railway system. Besides, there aren't available plots of land to construct double track railways here.

"It's not simply a costly project, but an effective one.

Burhan emphasized that funds were available and the economic situation was improving as the country emerged from the monetary crisis.

"Besides, it will create many employment opportunities," he said.

Both House members also said the MRT would enhance public discipline.

"Residents will be forced to queue but, anyway, Jakarta residents will not experience such a great culture shock. They'll learn easily," Burhan said.

Handjojo believed that city residents would quickly get used to the system.

"Residents will improve their discipline by the time the subway is here," he said. (nvn)