Juddering start for Indonesia’s $5bn high-speed railway

The Indonesia-China joint venture building Indonesia’s first high-speed railway can finally get to work after the country’s transportation ministry issued a vital construction permit late last week.

The permit issued 18 March to PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC) is the latest stage of a confused and juddering start to the $5bn project, which is crucial to China’s plans to export high-speed rail technology around the world.

In January the Indonesian government halted work on the scheme just five days after the ground-breaking ceremony, attended by Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo (pictured), because KCIC had not submitted the required paperwork for all necessary permits.

According to newspaper The Jakarta Post, however, the permit issued Friday only allows KCIC to build the first 5km of the 142.3-km railway that will connect Jakarta and Bandung, West Java.

Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo, centre, during the ground-breaking ceremony on 21 January 2016 (Xinhua/

The company is now working on the necessary documents and plans to apply for the construction permit for the remainder of the project in early April.

"We’ve already got the permit, but it’s not the only one we need," KCIC president director, Hanggoro Budi Wiryawan, told the Post.

Hanggoro said KCIC also still needed to coordinate with the National Police and regional administrations in areas the line will pass through.

He told the newspaper that construction of the first 5km could start within two weeks, although the company had yet to start recruiting workers due to the confusion over permits.

KCIC, which consists of the China Railway Corporation and a consortium of four Indonesian state-owned companies, including construction firm Wijaya Karya and toll operator Jasa Marga, received three permits last week.

The Jakarta-Bandung railway project is estimated to cost $5.1 billion, with more than half of that amount funded by the China Development Bank. It will stop at four stations – Halim, Karawang, Walini and Tegalluar.

Last year China beat Japan in a hotly contested bidding war to develop Indonesia’s first high-speed rail line.

Photograph: Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo, centre, during the ground-breaking ceremony on 21 January 2016 (Xinhua/

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