The Traffic Beater
    Category: Big Build By : Jeffrey Hutton and Ulisari Eslita Read : 1819 Date : Sunday, April 06, 2014 - 12:06:57

    Courtesy of MRT Jakarta

    Just ahead of a meeting two years ago with Jakarta’s newly installed deputy governor Basuki Purnama, Dono Boestami got a request to bring along his CV. Then, as the chief financial officer for the government investment agency, the Indonesia Infrastructure Fund, Dono was prepared to outline funding options for some of the capital’s big-name transport, road and port projects. What he got instead was a job offer from Purnama and Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo (Jokowi) to oversee the creation of the city’s first mass rapid transit project, the first phase of which will cost $1.6 billion but in total could add up to $10 billion.

    He accepted, but on the proviso he would have direct access to the governor or his deputy. “The deal was that I had their full support. I don’t like to go to Jokowi for everything,” says Dono, now president director of PT Mass Rapid Transit Jakarta (MRT), the government-owned company that is in charged with building, and eventually operating and maintaining the MRT.

    Six months since breaking ground on the country’s biggest and most complicated transport project, preparations are running on schedule for construction to start this month. The MRT will have a total length of 111 kilometers, divided into two corridors: the North-South corridor (Lebak Bulus to Kampung Bandan) with total length of 24 kilometers and East-West corridor with total length of 87 kilometers.

    The North-South corridor development will be divided into two phases. The first phase will start in Lebak Bulus all the way to the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle (Bundaran HI) with a total length of 16 kilometers. The first phase consists of six elevated stations and seven underground stations and will be completed by 2018. Meanwhile, the second phase will go from Bundaran HI to Kampung Bandan for a total of eight kilometers. This phase is expected to be completed by 2020.

    For the total project, the estimated cost is about $10 billion. The first phase of the project is financed by the central government and the Jakarta government with the support of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). “So far, JICA is committed to lend us about ¥125 billion for this project. The rest will be from the government,” says Dono, adding that the loan is a 40-year-loan with a 10 year grace period.  

    On the drawing board since 1986, the MRT failed to see the light of day in part because earlier administrations such as Jokowi’s predecessor Fauzi Bowo shelved funding for the MRT and its sister project, the $1.5 billion monorail, in favor of an expanded bus system. Jokowi started work on both in October. “Every politician or bureaucrat has had a different idea on how to fix Jakarta’s traffic but nothing was getting done until now,” says Nusantara Infrastructure Director Scott Younger (who is also a columnist for this magazine). Now there is a plethora of projects. “The MRT is only one out of four or five projects being done simultaneously that will soon be implemented by the government,” says Erry Riyana Hardjapamekas, president commissioner of MRT Jakarta.