Makassar. South Sulawesi on Saturday began the trial of running a Trans Sulawesi passenger train across seven railway stations in two districts for a distance of 66 kilometers in the island’s first railway network.
Governor Andi Sudirman Sulaiman was among the passengers during the historic trip using two carriages from Garongkong Station in the district of Barru to Mangilu Station in neighboring Pangkep.
The governor said the train will transport South Sulawesi residents for free during the trial until the end of the year.
“The trains now come into operational in limited trial and will serve residents for free until the end of the year,” Andi said.
“It remains limited operations because the distance covered is still between Mangilu and Garongkong. God willing, the train will reach the district of Maros in the near future.”
The central government broke ground on the mega project on August 12, 2014, two months before President Joko Widodo began his first term.
But major issues especially related to land clearance and funding have impeded the works and caused the government to miss the deadline.
The initial phase of the Trans Sulawesi project should have covered a distance of 145 kilometers between the provincial capital Makassar and Parepare two years ago.
In April, Makassar Mayor Danny Pomanto urged Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi to consider building elevated tracks across the city to overcome land clearance problems.
The government has been determined to build railway tracks from Makassar in South Sulawesi to Manado in North Sulawesi since 2001.
Before the Trans Sulawesi project commenced, the country’s railway system is only available in Java and Sumatra.