Jakarta. A multi-ministerial commission responsible for overseeing the development of the National Monument, or Monas, in Central Jakarta, has blocked the city's plan to hold a Formula E electric car race inside the park, fearing the race would cause irreparable damage to its historic square.
The Medan Merdeka Area Development Steering Commission said the city may hold the race around the park, but not inside the Monas compound.
"The decision was made in the steering commission meeting today," Setya Utama, the secretary of the State Secretariat Ministry, said late on Wednesday.
The decision came after days of controversies surrounding the city council's bold moves to renovate parts of the park, including by cutting down hundreds of old trees without a permit from the commission.
"We have to protect the park's cultural heritage. They will need to put on new asphalt on the race track and [build] other facilities. They can do it outside Monas, but not inside," Setya said.
The decision is a significant setback for the race as paths inside the monument complex account for almost two-thirds of the 2.6-kilometer race track.
Under the original plan, the race track will start on Jalan Medan Merdeka Selatan, a one-kilometer road on the south side of Monas.
It enters Monas after a sharp left turn to Jalan Silang Merdeka Tenggara. The track will go on a loop on Jalan Titian Indah inside Monas, then head to Jalan Silang Merdeka Barat Daya, before the finish on Jalan Medan Merdeka Selatan.
The commission suggested the Formula E race should avoid Monas altogether and pass through Jalan Medan Merdeka Utara on the north side of the park, in front of the Merdeka Palace.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has set a budget of Rp 1.6 trillion ($120 million) for the country's first Formula E race in June.
The city council appointed city-owned property company Jakarta Propertindo (Jakpro) to build the race track.
As of today, Jakpro is still carrying out the tender to select a contractor to build it.