Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has approved a plan to extend the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail to Surabaya, East Java, with a move that would urge China and Japan, former rivals in the original project, to collaborate for developing Indonesia's high-speed railway network.
Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi first revealed the plan to the public in February. Coordinating Minister for the Economy Airlangga Hartarto on Friday said the cost and benefit were the main reason behind Jokowi's decision.
"According to the President's direction, to make [high-speed train] more economical, the project should extend to Surabaya, not only stop in Bandung," Airlangga said.
"Also, it was proposed to include a consortium from Japan to the existing consortium," Airlangga said. He was referring to the China and Indonesia consortium, Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC), which currently develops the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail project.
Airlangga said the Japanese consortium would take responsibility for developing the track from Bandung to Surabaya.
It was Japan which worked on the preliminary study on Jakarta-Bandung fast train project before China beat their proposal without asking a government guarantee, a more lucrative proposition at the time.
Japan, on the other hand, shift their focus on other projects. In 2017, the country had agreed with the Ministry of Transportation to study on a Jakarta-Surabaya semi high-speed train. The project would cost an estimated $7.6 billion, according to the ministry.
The Jakarta-Bandung high-speed train project development has been slow, however, missing the government's imposed deadlines several times due to red tapes and land clearing problems.
According to a report from the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises, KCIC would complete the project next year, another one-year delay from the last deadline.
"The Jakarta-Bandung deadline will be September 2022. It should be able to reach the target," the SOE Minister Erick Thohir said on Friday. Eric said KCIC was still working on the construction amid the Covid-19 pandemic.