Tue, 29 Jul 2003

Mahathir supports monorail: Sutiyoso

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Undeterred by criticism, Governor Sutiyoso claimed on Monday that Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had expressed his support for Jakarta's plan to develop a monorail.

"I met Mahathir -- we discussed the plan to develop a monorail," Sutiyoso said at City Hall on his visit to Kuala Lumpur at the weekend.

He said the Malaysian government supported M Trans Holding, a Malaysian investor, to work in partnership with the Jakarta administration to build the monorail.

The administration planned to start construction of the means of semi-mass transportation in December and to launch it for the public in 2006, he said.

He said construction of the monorail, which would run from Bekasi through Jakarta and end in Tangerang, was not expensive as it would not need much land.

"It is not expensive, particularly as it will not be necessary to clear land, as most of the proposed monorail line will follow existing roads."

Previously, PT Indonesian Transit Central, a consortium established to develop the monorail project, proposed the 22.5- kilometer monorail route from Bekasi in West Java province via Jakarta along Jl. Casablanca to Tangerang, Banten province.

The consortium comprises local companies such as PT Adhi Karya, Global Profex Synergy and Radiant Utama.

The Malaysian investor is prepared to invest Rp 3.28 trillion (US$386 million) in the first stage of the project, including construction of the stations.

Meanwhile, city administration spokesman Muhayat revealed that the city was still thoroughly studying the project, saying that its initial route might be changed.

"Maybe the route will run within the city as part of efforts to ease traffic congestion, but we have not yet decided it," said Muhayat.

He said the administration had supported the Malaysian investor, although the amount of investment had yet to be decided as it depended on the route taken by the project.

Jakarta has dreamed of having a mass rapid transit (MRT) system for many years. In 1995, in cooperation with a foreign and local consortium, it planned to develop a subway but due to the economic crisis, the dreams of seeing the subway were dropped.

In the meantime, the city planned the bus rapid transit (BRT) scheme, known as the busway project. Dozens of buses are being prepared for the project, which will be launched later this year.

Besides BRT, the monorail is also planned as mass transportation to ease traffic congestion, allegedly caused by cars from outside Jakarta, especially from Tangerang, Bekasi, Depok and Bogor.

One of the criticisms of a monorail was that the transportation would be too expensive for Jakartans, for if it were purely developed by private firms without government subsidy, the tariff could reach Rp 12,000 per trip.

The current fare for public buses or electric trains serving Greater Jakarta with or without air-conditioning, is Rp 1,000 to Rp 6,000.

In conjunction with the city council, the administration is currently discussing a bylaw on transportation that will become a legal umbrella for a variety of transportation means, including monorail and the controversial busway project.

Discussion of the bylaw is not expected to be completed before December, and it has been is criticized for not involving the public in the arrangement of the transportation system.

Nonmotorized vehicles, such as bicycles and pedicabs, are not covered in the bylaw.