Jakarta. The Indonesian government says it will organize a “beauty contest” between China and Japan — the winner of which will be awarded a high-speed train project to connect Jakarta and Bandung.
“Two interested nations, which have conducted a comprehensive study [on the project], are Japan with its Shinkasen [bullet trains] and China with their own speed technique,” Coordinating Minister for the Economy Sofyan Djalil said after a cabinet meeting in Jakarta to discuss the issue.
“The best will win. The government will prepare an award for the beauty contest,” he added.
Sofyan said a “third party” would be invited to judge. He stopped short of mentioning who this third party was and whether there would be more than one, but added they should have no conflict of interest and were expected to offer objective technical assessments of both Japan and China’s proposals.
In a short time the government also will appoint supervisors and organizers of the “contest.”
Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan, also speaking to reporters after the cabinet meeting, said only China and Japan so far had shown interest in building high-speed railway network that would connect Jakarta and Bandung.
“If any other parties are interested, please [apply], then we will schedule a beauty contest [for you too],” Ignasius said.
Getting Indonesia moving
Monday’s cabinet meeting, led by President Joko Widodo, also discussed the planned construction of light rail transit networks in five Indonesian big cities, starting with Jakarta.
Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who was also present in the cabinet meeting, said the planned LRT network in the capital would be integrated with the existing commuter lines operated by state railway operator, KAI.
He added the LRT network would serve seven routes.
Basuki earlier this month said he had decided to award city-owned construction firm Jakarta Propertindo a limited construction contract as part of the $2.6 billion LRT project.
The company will build Corridor 1, a 21.6-kilometer route that connects Kebayoran Lama in South Jakarta with Kelapa Gading in North Jakarta.
The Jakarta City Council rejected the governor’s plans to include the project in this year’s budget, saying it wants the city administration to properly present the project first.
Basuki has forged ahead with the project nonetheless — securing funding from the central government for the first stage of construction, which is set to begin on Aug. 17.
The governor had wanted the private sector to finance the project, but decided the city was capable of financing it on its own.
Money earmarked to build roads will be diverted to complete all seven corridors of the LRT project, which is scheduled for completion in 2019.
On Monday, Basuki said Joko would issue a regulation to allow the government to purchase the outcome of the project and make it a state property.
“The presidential regulation is being prepared,” Basuki told reporters at the City Hall.