JAKARTA: Following the discovery of several issues with Indonesia’s Greater Jakarta Light Rail Transit (LRT), the launch of the long-awaited megaproject has been pushed back to the end of the month, with authorities citing the need to prioritise safety.
The LRT was supposed to be launched on Aug 18, after many prior delays.
According to Kompas, Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said on Thursday (Aug 3) that President Joko Widodo had advised for the Greater Jakarta LRT system to officially operate only after a successful trial.
"We asked the president for advice … (and he said to continue) the trial. When the trial is successful, then we will (begin operations)," he reportedly said.
He added that the megaproject could be launched on Aug 20 or Aug 30.
The Greater Jakarta LRT system will reportedly have a 44km line with three tracks. Greater Jakarta, or Jabodetabek, is a large metropolitan area covering Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi.
According to the Jakarta Post, Mr Widodo - better known as Jokowi - said in a statement on Thursday that there is no need to rush the opening of the Greater Jakarta LRT system to the public as safety must be prioritised.
He also said that it is acceptable if there are initially some problems in the operation of the LRT system as it is Indonesia’s first fully homegrown infrastructure project.
"Don't expect the operation to be perfect … All of it is made by us. So, if there are any deficiencies, we should understand,” he was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying in the statement.
According to him, the trains were locally manufactured by state-owned producer INKA, while the construction was done by state-owned firm Adhi Karya.
Jokowi also assured that any problems that emerge would be fixed, especially those related to safety.
Meanwhile, Mr Budi reportedly said that the government had involved experienced consultants and followed the applicable standards in designing the LRT.
The Public Works and Housing Ministry has also approved the design and construction of the project, he added.
In a Bisnis report on Thursday, Indonesia Transportation Society (MTI) Railway and Intercity Transportation Forum Chairperson Aditya Dwi Laksana said that the operational delay of the Greater Jakarta LRT is not a problem.
He said that the safety and smooth operation of the LRT must be prioritized, instead of rushing to catch up with Indonesia’s independence day celebration on Aug 17, the day before the LRT was supposed to be launched.
This launch postponement is in addition to multiple delays in the past. The LRT was first scheduled to begin operations last year, and then in June of this year, according to the Jakarta Post.
The limited public trial run was also later postponed to Aug 5. It was initially planned to resume on Jul 29 after it was suspended to make software improvements and fix system glitches,
Local media, including Kompas, reported that there were several problems that eventually caused the LRT launch to be postponed again. Among the problems is a design error of the bridge connecting the LRT track.
This issue was revealed on Monday by Deputy State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Minister Kartika Wirjoatmodjo in an accidentally streamed Youtube video. According to the Jakarta Post, Mr Kartika said that the bridge connecting the LRT track in Kuningan to Gatot Subroto Street is poorly designed.
He claimed that Adhi Karya had built the bridge without testing the turning angle of the trains, resulting in a problematically narrow track.
"The train (can only) run really slow (when passing the bridge), only 20 kilometres per hour. If the bridge was built wider, the train could turn at a higher speed," he reportedly said, adding that miscommunications had occurred between the construction firm and other companies involved.
All 31 trains for the LRT system also had different specifications which resulted in an unexpected increase in the software cost as Siemens, the company in charge of the project software, needed to produce a software allowing for the variety of specifications.
"Siemens called me for a meeting (and) said that the trains differ in their speed and braking mechanisms. All 31 trains are different," Mr Kartika was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Post.
According to Bisnis, the project initially incurred a cost overrun of 29.9 trillion rupiah (US$1.97 billion) which later ballooned to 32.5 trillion rupiah. Of this, 2.6 trillion rupiah was covered by the state capital participation using the 2021 State Budget.
Adhi Karya president Entus Asnawi Mukhson said last year that the contract value for the train project amounts to 23.3 trillion rupiahs, according to Kompas.