Indonesia’s first bullet train sponsored by China continues to spark drama at every turn — now there’s talk of just scrapping the project altogether (again) of public and governmental opposition continues to grow .
Days after the drama over “insufficient paperwork” flared up, China’s Foreign Ministry raised eyebrows by point-blank denying postponement of the high speed rail project, prompting onlookers to query what is the damned truth.
SCMP reports that negativity quite abounds over the whole project, a proposed 750km high-speed line through four provinces of Java, stretching from Jakarta to Surabaya city. President Joko Widodo previously waxed poetic about the “major cooperation” with China, but former Regional Autonomy Minister Ryaas Rasyid has spilled that things could well change on a dime:
Every regional representative disagrees with this project. This train costs so much money and it is seen as an unfair project as Jokowi has said he will give priority to developing provinces outside of Java island.
Jokowi is a character which listens to public opinion. If opposition against the high speed train grows stronger, I suspect the project could be cancelled.
Opposition also exists in the President’s own Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), at least from MP Masinton Pasaribu:
I am critical of this high speed train as it does not bring any benefits to the poor people. This project will swallow huge sums of money. The train ticket is estimated to cost 250,000 rupiah (HK$143) one-way, which is beyond the reach of ordinary people. It will only be used by the elites. We already have toll roads and train service that goes to Bandung at the cost of 100,000 rupiah for executive class. We don’t need this high speed train.
Aside from financial concerns, question marks abound over the project’s planning and research/development. Managing director Agus Pambagio of public policy interest group Ph&H discussed some of the project’s more dubious details
The feasibility study was done in three months instead of the usual 18-19 months.
The railway line has to pass through Purwakarta, an area with geological faults which is prone to earthquakes and landslides in West Java… Irrigation of paddy fields in West Jawa will be affected.
It usually takes 1-1.5 years for an environmental impact study [as opposed to 7 days] because it has to be very detailed, what more for an area prone to earthquake and landslides. I urge the government to review this project purely on ground of safety concerns.
Apparently the only ones actually in favour (who aren’t working for China) are those who would directly benefit from the train, such as one Bandung resident Eddy Sofyan:
I spend seven to eight hours driving back to Bandung from Jakarta during the weekends as the roads are so jammed. It is very tiring and a waste of my time. I really welcome this high speed train. Many people in Bandung feel the same.
China is putting its reputation on the line on a global stage. I am sure China will prioritise the safety of the train.
Maybe Japan lucked out after all?