Sat, 15 May 2004

Monorail depot over West Flood Canal proposed

Damar Harsanto Jakarta

A proposed monorail project to ease traffic in Central Jakarta would involve the construction of a depot, a 20-story apartment block, a five-story shopping mall and several parks, an architect designing the project said.

The depot would be built above the West Flood Canal in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta, Singapore's LPM Architects and Engineers architect Mazlan Kassim, told The Jakarta Post on Friday. The area was crowded with squatters and it would be hard to clear it up, he added.

Kassim said the base for the 12-hectare compound would be a reinforced concrete platform, which would shoulder the depot, apartment buildings and the mall.

"We will need strong columns in the center of the platform to help bare the load of the construction," he said.

Kassim said the construction of the columns supporting the platform would not affect water flow in the canal. However, boats would not be able to travel underneath it, he said. Another planned municipal project, the city's river transportation system, envisages water taxis plying the canal.

The design plan of the depot was displayed at City Hall during the signing ceremony of the construction deal between the Jakarta administration and PT Jakarta Monorail, a consortium of Indonesian and foreign investors, including Hitachi Asia company.

City public works agency head Fodly Misbach said he was surprised with the design.

"Technically, I see no problem with it as long as the construction spares space underneath for river maintenance purposes," he said.

Fodly made no comment about the river transportation plan.

Governor Sutiyoso, however, said the monorail project would be integrated in the city's transportation system along with the busway and proposed subway and canal system.

The city began operating the first phase of the busway corridor from Blok M in South Jakarta to Kota in West Jakarta on Jan. 15. The project has been criticized for its lack of integration -- especially the absence of feeder bus services.

Friday's agreement is the second time the monorail project has been proposed after a botched plan last year led to the dropping of Malaysian investor MTrans Holding Sdn. Bhd. after it said it could not fulfill the city's requirements for the project.

The city had demanded MTrans build two stages of the project, the 14.8-kilometer lucrative "green line" and the 12.2-kilometer less-lucrative "blue line", simultaneously.

Both parties also signed a memorandum of understanding to proceed with construction at the time.

PT Jakarta Monorail said the project would cost up to US$630 million (Rp 5.7 trillion), much higher than the $540 million quote from MTrans.

The consortium said the green line would be operational in December 2006, while the blue line would start in early 2007.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the monorail's construction is scheduled for May 24.