JAKARTA: The Jakarta city government on Wednesday (Jun 22) began construction of its ambitious light rail transit (LRT) system as it races to complete the first phase of the project in time for the Asian Games in mid-2018.
The initial phase of the LRT, costing about US$350 million, spans 6 kilometres from Kelapa Gading in North Jakarta to Velodrome in East Jakarta.
The entire project, which has seven corridors, is being built by the Jakarta administration. The capital of Southeast Asia’s biggest economy wants to have a transport system of international standards.
"If a developed city does not have a rail-based, modern, mass transportation system, then this is not a developed city," said Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. "We cannot continue to build roads, and try to grow it faster than the number of vehicles we have now."
The development of Jakarta’s LRT system has faced many challenges. It was delayed by a year due to disagreements with the Transportation Ministry on the rail model and route. However, developers are now optimistic about completing the project ahead of the Asian Games in 2018.
"This project normally will take more than 4-5 years but with the right planning, the right partners, we are very confident that we can make it happen in two years," said Satya Heraghandi, president director of PT Jakarta Propertindo.
"The partners that we select to do this have the experience in the previous Asian games Olympic Games to build the facilities within the timeframe."
The LRT route will pass several venues and supporting facilities of the Asian Games. It includes the Velodrome complex which also started construction work on Wednesday.
The launch of the LRT project in Jakarta on Wednesday is also significant as the capital commemorates its 489th anniversary.
Residents in Jakarta are looking forward to the completion of the rail system which is expected to ease traffic congestion and improve commuting experience in one of the busiest cities in Southeast Asia.