Governor Joko Widodo officiated the ground-breaking ceremony for the city's mass rapid transit system on Jalan Tanjung Karang in Dukuh Atas, Central Jakarta, on Thursday morning, ushering in a new era of public transport for a city plagued by gridlock.
“Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim [In the name of Allah, the most beneficent and the most merciful], I declare the MRT groundbreaking to start,” he said at the location.
Wearing a green project helmet and white shirt, Joko said that for 24 years Jakartans have dreamed of their city building a modern and advanced MRT system.
“Perhaps many of those dreams vanished because they did not see the physical construction of the MRT. Alhamdulillah [thank God], this morning we will break ground,” he said.
During his speech, Joko asked that MRT Jakarta, the company managing the project, continue to disseminate traffic information to the public as work continued.
Congestion in certain areas of the city is expected to worsen as construction progresses on the MRT, which is now targeted to see completion by the end of 2017. The project's managers are aiming to commence operations for the route by 2018.
The governor also stressed that an information campaign regarding the public benefit of using the MRT must be launched as the train system was built.
“Therefore, when the MRT is up and running, people will voluntarily ditch their private vehicles [in favor of the MRT],” he said.
The first phase of the MRT is estimated to cost $1.5 billion and span 15.7 kilometers — from Lebak Bulus in South Jakarta to the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta. The second phase will span from Hotel Indonesia to Kampung Bandan in North Jakarta that is scheduled to operate in 2020.
The whole system will consist of 13 stations — with seven elevated and six underground.
Dono Boestami, the president director of MRT Jakarta, said that the Dukuh Atas underground station will be located at Dukuh Atas Park. He said that he expected the station would act an interconnection hub for other modes of mass transportation, as well.
However, this phase of the groundbreaking, he said, will secure the station’s foundation — a strong retaining wall will be built around the site while workers dig 10 to 15 meters down into the ground.
“Even though it looks simple, it is very essential,” he said.
After Dukuh Atas, the company will construct an elevated station at Jalan Sisingamangaraja in South Jakarta.
“The physical construction will start in early 2014 and will be followed by other elevated and underground stations,” he said.
Nirwono Joga, an urban planning expert from Trisakti University, said that he expected the first phase of the MRT to decrease traffic in Jakarta by up to 30 percent, especially once the route at Kampung Bandan was completed.
“Jakarta traffic is a result of vehicles piling up from the city’s surrounding areas [Bodetabek: Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi],” he said. “These people will [in the future] be accommodated by mass transportation.”
Soegeng Purnomo, a transportation expert from the Indonesian Transportation Society (MTI), also hailed the commencement of the long-delayed project and encouraged the city’s administration to prepare for its second phase to help ease traffic.
“After the two routes are constructed," he said, "mass transportation from the city to its outskirts will bring about significant change."