How In­done­sia Aims to Bet­ter Con­nect Its Cities

Indonesia Expat - - FRONT PAGE - By Heru Naing­golan

CON­NECT­ING peo­ple in a na­tion like In­done­sia – which has an ex­tremely di­verse ge­og­ra­phy across thou­sands of is­lands – will al­ways be a big chal­lenge, es­pe­cially with the na­tion’s pop­u­la­tion and eco­nomic growth fu­elling its peo­ple’s move­ment in and out of the coun­try. The devel­op­ment of ba­sic in­fra­struc­ture and trans­porta­tion fa­cil­i­ties has been one of the gov­ern­ment’s top pri­or­i­ties in re­cent years. This year is no dif­fer­ent. 2017 is ex­pected to be a ma­jor year for the trans­porta­tion sec­tor in In­done­sia, as some big projects are slated to com­mence, while oth­ers are set to be fin­ished.

Mass Trans­porta­tion in Ma­jor Cities

This year, the Trans­porta­tion Min­istry is fo­cus­ing on de­vel­op­ing mass trans­porta­tion projects in sev­eral ma­jor cities. “Some of them in­clude the Greater Jakarta’s Light Rail Tran­sit [LRT], South Su­ma­tra and tram in Surabaya,” Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Budi Karya Su­madi said dur­ing the 2017 Trans­porta­tion Out­look press con­fer­ence last month.

While LRT projects in Greater Jakarta and Palem­bang have al­ready be­gun, the con­struc­tion of the tram in Surabaya, the cap­i­tal of East Java and In­done­sia’s sec­ond largest city, will not be­gin un­til later this year. Dur­ing a meet­ing with Surabaya Mayor Tri Ris­ma­harini on De­cem­ber 30, the min­istry said that the con­struc­tion of the first leg of the tram tracks would start early this year.

“From our dis­cus­sion, [tram] from Joy­oboyo to Tun­jun­gan, about four kilo­me­tres, will start to be con­structed this year. Hope­fully it will fin­ish in two years,” Su­madi said. The project would be the first mass trans­porta­tion tram in In­done­sia. “Of course, this will be­come a new mind set for other cities in In­done­sia [to fol­low],” the min­is­ter added.

Ma­jor cities in In­done­sia like Surabaya are scram­bling to come up with mass trans­porta­tion so­lu­tions as ev­ery day new cars and mo­tor­cy­cles are clog­ging up the streets, ef­fec­tively re­duc­ing the speed of each ve­hi­cle to a snail’s pace. But none of those cities have traf­fic prob­lems as bad as Jakarta, no­to­ri­ous for hav­ing the worst traf­fic in the world. There­fore, sev­eral ma­jor trans­porta­tion projects are un­der­way in the cap­i­tal, namely an MRT, an LRT and the SoekarnoHatta Air­port rail­way link. Among those three, the air­port link is ex­pected to be fin­ished the ear­li­est, be­fore the end of 2017.

State- owned rail­way op­er­a­tor PT Kereta Api In­done­sia (KAI) has promised that the air­port link would start op­er­at­ing in June 2017, con­nect­ing pas­sen­gers be­tween Mang­garai Sta­tion in South Jakarta and the in­ter­na­tional air­port in just 57 min­utes.

“The tar­get is ei­ther June or July of 2017. We have to be op­ti­mistic and work hard [to meet the tar­get]," KAI Pres­i­dent Di­rec­tor Edi Suk­moro said at Gam­bir Sta­tion in Jakarta on De­cem­ber 31. He added that the com­pany had or­dered ten train sets. “They will come in stages, not all at once. We are pray­ing that by June, the trains will be ready,” Suk­moro said.

Stake­hold­ers are also op­ti­mistic about the MRT’s progress this year, with PT MRT Jakarta plan­ning to speed up con­struc­tion in 2017 in or­der to meet the tar­get of first op­er­a­tion in Fe­bru­ary of 2019.

“In 2017 we will speed up. The ma­jor bulk of the con­struc­tion work will be in 2017. There­fore, there will be traf­fic dis­tur­bance be­cause of this speed up. But we have to do that,” MRT Jakarta CEO Wil­liam Sa­ban­dar said dur­ing a press meet­ing on De­cem­ber 14, 2016.

Railways and Toll Roads

Apart from de­vel­op­ing mass trans­porta­tion modes to ease traf­fic con­ges­tion in ma­jor cities, the gov­ern­ment is also de­vel­op­ing railways and toll roads to help con­nect cities in some ma­jor is­lands across the coun­try. One such ex­am­ple is the Trans Su­ma­tra toll road mega-project, part of the gov­ern­ment’s mas­sive plan to boost con­nec­tion in the is­land of Su­ma­tra by link­ing its north­ern­most prov­ince of Aceh to its south­ern­most prov­ince of Lam­pung by 2019.

While the project, as a whole, will not be fin­ished be­fore 2019, road users may get to en­joy a 70- kilo­me­tre stretch of the toll road this year, as fund­ing and land pro­cure­ment is­sues hin­der­ing the progress of the project have been re­solved. The parts of the toll road that will be ready by the end of 2017 are Medan- Bin­jai (17 kilo­me­tres), Palem­bang- In­dralaya (22 kilo­me­tres) and parts of Bakauheni-Ter­banggi Be­sar (140 kilo­me­tres).

Fast- and medium- speed train projects are also gain­ing ground, par­tic­u­larly in Java. The Jakar­taSurabaya medium- speed train project, for in­stance, is ex­pected to have its fea­si­bil­ity stud­ied in 2017, with the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment of­fer­ing to ini­ti­ate the as­sess­ment.

As of now, the gov­ern­ment and PT KAI have com­pleted the project’s pre­lim­i­nary study, with the Agency for the As­sess­ment and Ap­pli­ca­tion of Tech­nol­ogy (BPPT) slated to de­cide which routes are to be de­vel­oped first, ei­ther the Jakarta-Se­marang route or the Se­marang-Surabaya one, in early 2017.

In to­tal, the min­istry plans to build 175 kilo­me­tres of rail­way through­out In­done­sia in 2017, as well as re­ha­bil­i­tate 7.3 kilo­me­tres of ex­ist­ing rail­way.

Ma­jor Cities to Im­prove Air Ac­cess

With the coun­try be­ing home to more than 17,000 is­lands, fly­ing is some­times the only way to go from one place to an­other in the ar­chi­pel­ago. How­ever, many In­done­sian air­ports are known for their medi­ocre − if not lack­lus­tre – ser­vice, op­er­at­ing at over­ca­pac­ity de­spite a grow­ing num­ber of flights to and from the coun­try. There­fore, state- owned air­port op­er­a­tors PT Angkasa Pura I (AP I) and PT Angkasa Pura II (AP II) are gear­ing up to carry out a ma­jor ex­pan­sion and re­vi­tal­iza­tion of air­ports un­der their man­age­ment na­tion­wide. Some of the ex­pan­sions are sched­uled to be fin­ished this year, such as the new in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nal at the Hu­sein Sas­trane­gara air­port in Ban­dung, West Java.

“The in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nal will be able to ac­com­mo­date up to 1 mil­lion pas­sen­gers per year,” PT Angkasa Pura II Gen­eral Man­ager Dorma Manalu said on De­cem­ber 5, 2016. He hopes that the new ter­mi­nal will be able to in­crease the num­ber of tourists, es­pe­cially for­eign ones, com­ing to Ban­dung. “We are eye­ing a Ban­dung–Thai­land route. So there has to be a way [from Ban­dung] to Bangkok so that in­ter­na­tional tourists could come,” said Manalu.

A new air­port ter­mi­nal in Banyuwangi, lo­cated on the east­ern tip of Java, just west of Bali, is also sched­uled to op­er­ate in March of 2017. The ex­pan­sion of the run­way will al­low jet­lin­ers such as the Air­bus A320, Boe­ing 737 and Bom­bardier CRJ to op­er­ate flights di­rectly from Jakarta.

“The Pave­ment Clas­si­fi­ca­tion Num­ber will be in­creased to 40 so that [the Boe­ing] 737 can land,” Su­madi said on De­cem­ber 31.

Over­all, the gov­ern­ment is tar­get­ing a 4.8 per­cent in­crease in in­ter­na­tional tourists this year. It also aims to achieve 85 per­cent suc­cess ra­tio for do­mes­tic air­lines’ on-time per­for­mance.

Vis­ual im­pres­sion of Ter­mi­nal 3 Ul­ti­mate, Soekarno-Hatta In­ter­na­tional Air­port ( Im­age courtesy of Skyscrap­erCity)

Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo (mid­dle) in­spect­ing the LRT project at Cibubur, ac­com­pa­nied by Min­is­ter for State- Owned En­ter­prises Rini Soe­marno ( left) and Jakarta Gov­er­nor Ba­suki Tja­haja Pur­nama ( Im­age courtesy of Fo­rum Kead­i­lan)

Drone’s view of Bakauheni-Ter­banggi Be­sar Toll Road, which is in­te­grated into Trans Su­ma­tra Toll Road ( Im­age courtesy of Skyscrap­erCity)

Green- con­cept ar­chi­tec­ture of new Blimb­ingsari Air­port, Banyuwangi ( Im­age courtesy of Hu­mas Pemkab Banyuwangi)

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