Tue, 09 Aug 1994

MRT projects to start next year

JAKARTA (JP): The Ministry of Public Works yesterday announced that the oft-delayed urban Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project, which will link Blok M in South Jakarta with the Kota area in West Jakarta, will begin next year.

Ruslan Diwiryo, the ministry's secretary general, said that the government will also build what he called an East-West MRT system.

The East-West corridor, which will pass Grogol in West Jakarta, the National Monument in Central Jakarta and Jl. Pramuka, East Jakarta, will be 40 kilometers long while the North-South corridor will cover 20 kilometers.

Ruslan said the East-West corridor is expected to be completed within 6 years, and the North-South section within three years.

He said the MRT projects should receive the high priority they deserve as a means of solving the city's chronic traffic problems or else Jakarta will rival Bangkok in terms of traffic congestion.

"The MRT system is badly needed. If it's not built soon, traffic problems in Jakarta will become worse, just like in Bangkok. And we don't want that to happen," Ruslan said.

When asked about the government's previous refusals of proposals by private investors to build a light train system between Blok M and Kota, Ruslan said the city currently needs a west to east link as well.

"It's in line with the city's master plan," Ruslan said.

Ruslan said the government expects the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to submit recommendations on the best MRT system as soon as possible so that the project can be started next year,

"It could be a combination of bus and heavy rail or bus and light rail system," Ruslan said.

Nevertheless, Ruslan said that he personally prefers a light rail system because it is more flexible and easier to construct.

Ruslan said the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Public Works, the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas), the City Administration, BPPT and related institutions have resumed meetings about the project.

He added that previous studies are being reviewed by a team from BPPT in coordination with JICA.

"Now we have the support of JICA to review the results of all previous studies... And we hope that next year we can start the project," Ruslan said.

Ery Chayaridipura, the chief of the Jakarta Development Planning Agency, said recently that 11 feasibility studies had been conducted between 1972 and 1990 on the MRT project. Feasibility studies on its technical design began last April, while studies on financing schemes have not yet been made.

Ery said that bidding for the mammoth project will begin next year with the bidding documents available next month. (rid)