Conferences, PPP and hot issues for connectivity
Much to many people’s surprise and no small consternation, the big Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Infrastructure, scheduled for the beginning of May, was postponed at the 11th hour, following a call from the top.
At the time of writing, the hot news is that it is now scheduled for the end of August, just three months away. The opportunity is being taken to strengthen the inputs for a main theme of the conference, namely the government’s economic development plan, MP3EI. This is being done by involving, to a greater extent, the role of local government, with the key provinces affected having an opportunity to spell out the focus of their targets for growth.
Prior to this event, there will be several other smaller conferences and seminars in Jakarta which will focus on the sectors of infrastructure and transport in particular.
Various briefings on public-private partnerships (PPP) are also taking place to encourage a wider dissemination of what PPP means and entails. An aspect of this is a growing comprehension by the government that wooing private sector participation is not easy and requires a greater degree of flexibility of mindset than has appeared since this formula for infrastructure delivery was first tabled.
Partners for the future
The interest in PPP as a means to encourage private sector involvement is worldwide, but it must be understood that not all projects undertaken in this manner have been successful, and as many lessons must be learned from them as from those that have worked well.
In the toll road sector, where work at various stages is being undertaken, particularly on elements of the key Trans-Java route, there is also movement among various stakeholders to change their holdings partially or completely, with opportunities to participate for potential new parties. It is hoped that changes in share structure of some key sections may lead to earlier action on delivery.
As the Minister of Public Works and others have said, toll road developers must be encouraged to proceed with works and not sit back and wait for the completion and availability of the implementing regulations to allow a go-ahead under the terms in December’s Land Acqusition Law.
The implementing regulations are going to take several more months before being presented for use, and a further number of months after that before their jurisdictional effectiveness will be tested in practice and the judiciary become involved in deliberating and pronouncing judgments in the courts when disputes arise. Investors and developers will be watching this process with keen interest.
The two new airports being proposed to support the burgeoning air tranport demand in the Greater Jakarta area at Karawang in West Java with capacity for 70,000 passengers a day and at Kertajati further east for approximately 30,000 passengers have both been attracting publicity. The former, which is being studied for Japanese support, is being promoted by the central government in recognition of the huge strain on Soekarno-Hatta.
Jakarta’s current major airport is already carrying double the traffic for which it was intended and there is a restriction on adding a third runway. Add to this the problem of the road connections to the airport, where the frequency and size of traffic jams increases by the month.
Kertajati is being proposed by the West Java government and, once the 60-km Cisemdawu toll road is in place, this will be the airport of choice for the greater Bandung conurbation and even Cirebon to the east, once the Palimanan section of Trans-Java is in place. The current airport in Bandung, located in the hills, is not suitable for extension to support mainstream international air travel.
However, it is going to be a few years before either Karawang or Kertajati will be functioning, which means upgrading the terminal capacity at Soekarno-Hatta, where a start has been made. Just as important is the need to vastly improve the land linkages to the airport, as well as planning such linkages properly for the new airports.
At Soekarno-Hatta, there is a need to significantly increase road capacity, and not just beside the existing toll access or at the terminals. Other planned road links have to be put in place as quickly as possible. In addition, the proposed rail link must move beyond the talking and studying stage.
This expansion should not just be seen in the context of the airport alone, but take into account the many exciting private sector plans for commercial developments in the area west of the city of Jakarta, around Tangerang and the satellite towns and cities built a few years ago and now gaining self-containable maturity.
These also need further road links and could well take advantage of existing road rights-of-way, with the establishment of a monorail system linking the various key commercial, hotel and other developments that have already taken place, as well as those in the pipeline.
Nevertheless, the time for talking is over and some real action is required before this area of development suffers the same suffocating jams that are the fate of Central Jakarta.