Jakarta Governor May Approve Commuter Rail by Month-End

Jakarta’s first mass-rapid transportation project, aimed at reducing traffic congestion in the Indonesian city, may be approved by month-end, Governor Joko Widodo said.

PT Mass Rapid Transit Jakarta will build and maintain the commuter line to connect Lebak Bulus in the southern part of the city with the Hotel Indonesia roundabout in the city’s center, Widodo told reporters after a public hearing today.

“I expect the project will run at the end of this month,” Widodo said. “After today’s hearing, we will set up a small team to look into people’s complaints.”

The governor, who was elected in September, is trying to solve flooding and inadequate public transportation in the capital of Southeast Asia’s largest economy, which has expanded more than 6 percent over the past nine quarters. The $1.5 billion MRT project, to be partly funded by grants and loans from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, may begin operating in 2017 with a capacity to carry at least about 174,000 passengers a day, PT MRT President Director Tribudi Rahardjo said today.

Construction of the MRT has been delayed since studies were first conducted in the 1980s, illustrating Indonesia’s difficulty to push forward with projects to build roads, bridges and ports. Infrastructure investment has fallen to about 4 percent of gross domestic product from more than 8 percent in 1995 and 1996, Theo Thomas, senior public sector specialist at the World Bank in Indonesia, said in December.

“I don’t want this project to be delayed again, as we have been waiting for this for about 24 years,” Widodo said.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono plans to increase capital spending by more than 30 percent this year to build more roads, bridges and ports as a growing economy is stretching the country’s infrastructure capacity.

Indonesia also aims to build a monorail linking Jakarta and surrounding areas as part of a 9-trillion rupiah ($929 million) plan to help avoid traffic gridlock. The project is expected to be completed in two years after the license is approved next month, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan said Feb. 7.

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