That will make possible for the construction to possibly start in 2016."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia needs to develop its railway network in an effort to advance its transportation sector, promote economic activities and ensure connectivity across the country.

With that aim, the government is accelerating the development of railway infrastructure in various parts of the country to promote connectivity. The ventures include railway projects in Java, Sulawesi, Papua and Sumatra which will ensure better connectivity not just among the people but also regions.

"We have started developing railway projects in a number of regions in Sulawesi and Sumatra. I hope that a project will also be started this year in Papua. If that does not happen in the first semester, then it would surely happen in the second half of 2016. The work should begin this year," President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said as he opened a limited cabinet meeting on Monday.

Construction of Trans-Sulawesi Railway project is now underway and it is expected to commence operations in 2018.

On November 25 last year, President Jokowi had inspected the construction of the first phase of the 2,000-kilometer (km) Makassar-Manado Trans-Sulawesi Railway Project, which is being built at a cost of Rp40 trillion.

The first phase of the Trans-Sulawesi section stretches 145 km from Makassar, the South Sulawesi provincial capital, to Parepare Municipality, and is expected to begin operations by the end of 2016.

"The railway service is expected to commence operations in 2018 and will connect the two capitals," the President told newsmen after the inspection of the first phase.

The government was committed to providing infrastructure in various regions in the country.

"The infrastructure will come up not only in Sulawesi but also at other places. In Papua, we are still conducting a study, which is expected to be completed in the next quarter. That will make possible for the construction to possibly start in 2016," he had noted in November.

On Monday (Jan 4), the President said the implementation of railway project in Papua should begin by June, or latest by October or November this year.

Regarding the light rail transit (LRT) project in Palembang, South Sumatra, the government hopes that it would be completed in 2018, before the 18th Asian Games.

South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin said the development of railway stations that are a part of the LRT project, has been accelerated. Five of the 13 planned stations, part of the 24.5 kilometer LRT project, had been under construction for only two months after the groundbreaking ceremony.

"The work on the Rp7.2 trillion project is going on much faster than the initial schedule, thanks to the enthusiasm of South Sumatra which plans to host the Asian Games," Governor Alex Noerdin noted recently.

During Mondays cabinet meeting, President Jokowi also heard a report on the preparations for the construction of a multi-billion dollar high-speed train (HST) that will connect Jakarta with Bandung in West Java.

"I want to know about the constraints and obstacles, particularly about the licensing processes, the ground planning permits, the station development permits and other licensing obligations," the President told the cabinet meeting.

The limited cabinet meeting was attended by the West Java governor, deputy governor of Jakarta, Bandung mayor and representatives of the state-owned companies (BUMNs) consortium involved in the project.

Jokowi, who was formerly the governor of Jakarta, heard recommendations from governors, district heads and mayors whose areas the Jakarta-Bandung HST project touches.

The consortium chairman, Bintang Probowo, noted before the end of last year that his side had secured all ground planning permits and the approvals of all districts/municipalities whose areas had received clearance for the fast train project.

"We have set a target to secure the remaining permits in the coming one to two days or before January 14," Bintang affirmed.

President Jokowi said the construction of the fast train project was not being financed from the state budget and involved no government guarantees. This project, he said, is coming up through a business-to-business scheme, including a joint venture between Indonesia and China.

Earlier, two competitors had vied for the HST project, namely Japan and China.

Japan had conducted a feasibility study which put the investment value for the project at US$6.2 billion.

Later, China also conducted a feasibility study that showed that the investment needed for the construction of the high speed train development was only US$5.5 billion.

The Indonesian fast train project, similar to Japans Shinkansen train network, is expected to commence its groundbreaking ceremony on January 21 this year.

According to Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung on Monday, the groundbreaking ceremony of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed train project is expected to be held on January 21, 2016, as all permits will be secured by mid-January.

He said the groundbreaking ceremony will be held in Walini, Purwakarta, West Java.

Pramono said President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) had ordered the completion of all licensing processes, so that the groundbreaking ceremony could be held on January 21, 2016.

The cabinet secretary made the statement after attending a limited cabinet meeting chaired by President Jokowi at the Presidential Office on Monday.

"In essence, the projects construction work should be started on January 21, 2016. All licensing processes should be completed by January 14-15," remarked Pramono.

West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan hailed the fact that the train project would start soon.

He revealed that the project would start from the Halim area in East Jakarta and would reach Gedebage or Tegalluar region in Bandung, West Java.

"About 95 percent of the land used for the project is located in West Java. So, approvals were needed from the West Java governor and eight district heads for ground planning recommendations," he emphasized.

Reporter: Andi Abdussalam
Editor: Priyambodo RH
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