Japan seeks role building Indonesia’s $3bn Javanese megaport

Indonesia’s plans to build a deepwater megaport on the island of Java moved forward after the government included the $3bn scheme on its list of national strategic projects, and Japan is maneouvering to deliver it.

According to the Jakarta Post, the decision to move ahead with the scheme followed a meeting between Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo at last month’s G7 meeting in Japan.

The Patimban seaport, which is earmarked for a site in Subang about 70km from Jakarta, is expected to have an annual capacity of 7.5 million TEU containers, which would put it in the same category as Antwerp or Los Angeles.

The impulse behind the scheme is the Indonesian government’s desire to ease congestion at Tanjung Priok to the north of Jakarta, which handles about two-thirds of the country’s international trade.

Originally, the government planned to build port at Cilamaya, another site in west Java, but this was cancelled because it was too close to an offshore oil field.

The Indonesia Investments website reports that Patimban was selected as the location because it would improve communications with the industrial estates in the regions east of Jakarta such as Karawang and Cikarang. These house a variety of high value manufacturing operations.

Japan’s relations with Indonesia took a blow at the end of last year when it lost out in a bitter struggle with China to build a high-speed railway to connect those Javanese industrial areas with Jakarta.

Japan’s chances of building the port at Patimban are looking better. Japan has offered cheap loans to finance the project under terms similar to its financing of the $1 billion Jakarta Mass Rapid Transportation (MRT) rail system.

However, Indonesian officials have indicated that they will also be considering bids from companies in Belgium, the Netherlands and the UAE.

As well at Patimban, Japan is proposing a plan to double the speed of trains on the Jakarta-Surabaya rail line route, and to build a power station at Batang on the north coast of central Java.

Photograph: Indonesia wants to ease congestion at Tanjung Priok’s container wharf, pictured here (Indonesian Port Corporation)

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