Not So Fast! Jakarta Deputy Governor Calls for Scrutiny of MRT Plans
Lenny Tristia Tambun
Jakarta’s proposed mass rapid transit system will need to undergo a review before it can continue, the city’s new administration said on Thursday, suggesting it may be having second thoughts about the planned solution to the capital’s congestion woes.
Previous Governor Fauzi Bowo launched plans for a 14-kilometer MRT line from Lebak Bulus in South Jakarta to the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta.
Construction of the MRT was intended to start this year and finish by 2016. The first phase of construction was to be a six-kilometer underground system from the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle to Jalan Sisingamangaraja in South Jakarta.
But the city has yet to decide which company will carry out the underground construction work, which has a total cost of Rp 4.5 trillion ($469 million).
New Deputy Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama said on Thursday that Governor Joko Widodo was concerned about the price, financed jointly by the Japan International Corporation Agency, the central government and the city administration. The deputy governor added that a recent study by watchdog Indonesian Transportation Society claimed the project was too expensive.
“That is why we will ask MRT Jakarta to make another presentation. We want to see if [the budget] is justifiable or not. For the governor’s office, it’s simple: If it is proven to be inexpensive then go ahead, this is not [only Jakarta’s] money anyway,” Basuki said.
The deputy governor said the new administration was giving more attention to the monorail project.
“Why monorail? Because we don’t have to get into debt. For the MRT, we have to get into debt. The governor doesn’t want to get into debt because this is not [the Jakarta government’s] money, it is people’s money. The governor wants the MRT to be seriously examined,” he said.
But transportation expert Alvinsyah from the University of Indonesia said the newly elected pair could not simply halt the construction, saying that the city is bound by an agreement made between the JICA, the central government and the Jakarta administration.
“If the governor wants to delay the construction of the MRT in favor of the monorail we must first see whether such [contract] termination is possible,” he said.
Alvinsyah said the MRT would have capacity for 412,000 passengers a day, compared to the monorail’s 39,400.