High speed train to fulfil Indonesia`s future need: Sofyan Djalil

High speed train to fulfil Indonesia`s future need:  Sofyan Djalil

Sofyan Djalil. (ANTARA/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

Please do not see it from a short-term perspective."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - National Development Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil defended the Jakarta-Bandung high speed railway project here on Friday, urging those questioning the mega-project to consider the issue from the viewpoint of Indonesias future needs.

"We must see this project in the context of the nations future vision. Please do not see it from a short-term perspective. We can imagine that Java will become an island-city within thirty to fifty years from now. We must see this project from that perspective," he told newsmen here.

Djalil, who is also the head of the National Development Planning Agency, said he was aware of the fact that many people have questioned the need to construct this US$5.5 billion railway project because a toll road already connects Jakarta to Bandung.

"Many others debate the safety of the high-speed train, but we need this train not only for the Jakarta-Bandung route but also for the Jakarta-Surabaya route," he said.

Djalil argued that Java would transform into an "island-city" in the future, and Indonesia would need two or three high-speed trains. "Therefore, if we do not build such an infrastructure today, when are we going to do so?" he said, adding that the Environment Impact Analysis (Amdal) was needed for this 142.3 kilometer railway project.

The construction of this mega-project has been underway after President Joko Widodo officially launched it with a ground-breaking ceremony on January 21, 2016. Later, it triggered a public debate about the pros and cons of the project.

Certain parties alleged that this high speed railway project was being backed by a government guarantee even though the Indonesian government, from the beginning, has been asserting that it will not provide any state budget guarantee to the venture.

State Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno told journalists on Monday that all procedures had been followed transparently and the project was being undertaken as per a business-to-business formula.

"I am sad to see some people always talking about the high speed train without backing their allegations with clear facts and data," she said.

The presidential decree for this high speed railway project stipulates that there will be no state budget guarantee for it. "If I violate it, I can be subject to charges under Criminal Code and so will be the state enterprises," she said.

The guarantee that the stakeholders within PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia-China (KCIC), a joint venture between an Indonesian consortium of four state enterprises and China Railway International Co.Ltd, had requested was related to only a legal certainty for its operation, and did not amount to any debt-guarantee from the state budget.

(Reported by Ricky Prayoga/T.R013/INE/KR-BSR/A014)

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