Virus delays Indonesia’s $6bn high-speed rail project

Workers and materials stuck in China amid the coronavirus outbreak will delay work on Indonesia’s $6bn high-speed railway from Jakarta to Bandung, a project official said.

Around 300 Chinese staff went home for the Lunar New Year and could not return after Indonesia banned flights to and from China.

"The problem is many of those who returned to China are at senior levels and this has affected decision making," said Chandra Dwiputra, managing director of the Chinese-Indonesian joint venture building the railway, PT Kereta Api Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC).

Project directors, managers, engineers and consultants are among the absent Chinese workers.

"I can’t talk about targets for this year," Chandra added, reports Radio Free Asia (RFA).

Two thousand of the project’s 14,000 workforce are Chinese nationals.

More trouble is caused by the fact that nearly 50% of materials, including pipes, waterproofing and signalling equipment are made in China.

Their supply has been interrupted by the shutdown of manufacturing in China as authorities sought to contain the outbreak.

Chandra said: "Concrete, steel and some other materials are available here, but if there are no supporting materials, construction will be disrupted."

He has asked contractors to replace Chinese workers with Indonesians temporarily.

"The point is I am encouraging contractors to adjust plans according to the current conditions," he said.

Elsewhere, in North Sumatra, construction of a hydroelectric power plant has been suspended because of the absence of Chinese workers, reports RFA.

Image: Indonesia will use Chinese high-speed rail technology for its $6bn Jakarta-Bandung line (Raki_Man/CC BY 3.0)

Further reading:

Coronavirus impact: Australian universities mull halting major construction projects

"Force majeure" queries surge in Singapore as virus cuts supply of Chinese labour

Coronavirus: Chinese workers quarantined on Indonesian project

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  1. This is such an over-reaction. Construction workers are FAR more likely to get injured, even killed, on the job in ways that have noting to do with COVID-19. Even if they contract it, they have at least a 98% chance to fully recover – probably more because as people in their prime working years, they won’t have comorbidity factors like age, other serious illnesses, etc.

    My prediction: Covid-19 WILL spread all over the globe, it’ll cause a tiny spike in the number of flu/cold deaths – the regular flu kills 470,000 every year! Then, people will wonder what they were worried about, and there’ll be a spike in economic activity until things get back to normal.

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