Saturday, May 19, 2007

Jakarta monorail on again with govt guarantee

Saturday, March 17, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

After almost six months of delay, the longest such delay since Jakarta's on-again, off-again monorail project began in 2004, construction is scheduled to restart in April, this time with apparently strong financial backing.

Governor Sutiyoso said Friday that Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati had issued a letter of guarantee that will enable the rapid disbursement of a foreign loan for the project.

The minister only agreed to issue the letter after the city administration guaranteed it would make up half of any financial shortfalls in the operation of the monorail.

Jakarta plans to build two monorail routes, a green line and the blue line, at an estimated total cost of US$650 million. The monorail is envisioned as part of a future integrated mass rapid transportation system.

Officials initially said the green line was due to be completed by the end of 2007, but this has been delayed by funding problems.

"The project will start again next month but it will be difficult to complete the green line by the end of this year due to the long delay," Sutiyoso told reporters at City Hall.

The 14.3-kilometer green line will run through Central Jakarta and South Jakarta, from Jl. Rasuna Said to Jl. Gatot Subroto and the Sudirman Business District, on to Senayan, Jl. Pejompongan and back to Jl. Rasuna Said.

Sukmawati Syukur, the director of developer PT Jakarta Monorail (JM), told The Jakarta Post on Friday she had heard the letter of guarantee had been issued by the ministry.

"I believe the ministry took its time in issuing the letter to ensure it complied with a new regulation on railways, which requires any investor to work together with state railway company PT KA, as the sole train operator in the country."

JM had previously named Hong Kong train operator Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC) as its partner, Sukmawati said, but after the new regulation was issued it teamed up with PT KA as well.

"It's a win-win solution ... the partnership will start when the monorail is up and running in 2009," she said.

Dubai Islamic Bank has agreed to invest US$500 million in the project, as long as the central government and the city administration guarantee to cover the losses if the number of monorail passengers falls below 160,000 a day.

The City Council in December approved the administration's plan to make up half of any financial shortfalls in the operation of the monorail.

The central government agreed to cover the other half of any shortfalls, as stated in a presidential decree providing a financial guarantee for the project. This guarantee will last for the first five years of the monorail's operation. (02)

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