Wed, 13 Aug 2003

Observers pessimistic on monorail project

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Urban observers have expressed pessimism on whether the planned monorail project will be able to address the city's chaotic transportation problems.

However, they did not propose a genuine solution to the problem, either, other than criticizing that the project was not well prepared and the city had no integrated transportation plan.

Marco Kusumawijaya, a city development strategy consultant, said that because the city had no comprehensive transportation concept of its own, the administration could only adopt major ideas offered by investors.

"How can it resolve transportation problems if it only adopts proposals from those with a vested financial interest?" Marco asked in a seminar to launch a book titled Jakarta Bukan untuk Orang Miskin (Jakarta Not For the Poor) prepared by a team from the Jakarta Residents Forum (Fakta).

The seminar also featured Fakta chairman Azas Tigor Nainggolan, Muhamad Suhud of the International NGO Forum for Indonesia Development (INFID) and an editor from The Jakarta Post, Soeryo Winoto.

According to Marco, many new ideas from the administration, such as a bus rapid transit system, busway project, subway or water transportation, would not resolve the city's transportation problems as the ideas were not integrated, within a comprehensive plan.

"There is no integration between one transportation mode and the others. They are all planned separately," said Marco, who nominated himself as a candidate in the gubernatorial election last year.

Similar comments came from Jack Sumabrata of green organization, Pelangi, who said that it was not surprising if the city administration only bowed to the wishes of investors.

Jack considered that development of the monorail project was still uncertain as the route had not been studied thoroughly.

"Ideally, the monorail route should be based on a concept that has been studied comprehensively, while investors would simply build it," Jack told The Jakarta Post on a separate occasion.

The monorail is proposed to be developed by Indonesia Transit Central (ITC), a consortium that comprises a Malaysian firm, M Trans Holding and its local partners PT Adhi Karya, Global Profex Synergy and Radiant Utama.

The Malaysian firm will invest Rp 3.28 trillion (US$400 million) in the first stage of the project, including the construction of stations. It plans to charge passengers an average of Rp 12,000 per trip.

Initially, the project will link Bekasi in the east and Tangerang in the west, a distance of about 22.5 kilometers, via various major arteries including Jl. Casablanca, which is notorious for its traffic jams.

But later, the route may be revised as the investors also want to serve the city center. Construction of the project is expected to commence in December this year and be completed within the following two years.

Besides planning a monorail, the administration has allocated Rp 117 billion to a busway project, due to be launched in December this year.

It has ordered 60 buses for the project, which will run the 15 kilometers from Blok M, South Jakarta, to Kota, West Jakarta. Passengers will be charged Rp 3,000 per trip.

Currently, the fares for air-conditioned and non air- conditioned buses are Rp 1,000 to Rp 3,500 per trip.