Indonesia's first high-speed railway would be great boost for development

Updated: 2016-01-20 14:24

By Deng Yanzi in Hong Kong(

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Indonesia's first high-speed railway project, to be built by China, will be a boost to its economy, and the beginning of further infrastructure development in the country and Southeast Asia, Indonesian analysts believe.

This railway will bring a multiplier effect for economic growth in the region and create a new economic region.

"It is about the multiplier effect for the regional development, especially in a job creation by the project construction, or local factories that produce train components," Titissari Rumbogo, a planning and public policy scholar at the University of Indonesia, told China Daily.

The $5.5 billion railway project, slated to begin construction this Thursday, will connect the capital city Jakarta and the third biggest city Bandung with a 150-kilometer railway. The railway will stop at four stations in West Java Island in the first phase of operation.

It will create new residences around the transit areas with its transit-oriented development planning, according to Bintang Perbowo, president director of the Indonesian state construction firm PT Wijaya Karya.

"With these new areas being opened, people will choose to live there. There will also be development of a new city," Bintang said as reported by the Jakarta Post.

Harun al-Rasyid Lubis, executive director of Indonesia's Infrastructure Partnership & Knowledge Center, said the project was just a beginning for a wider railway network.

The government should be prepared to extend the high-speed rail to Surabaya, the eastern part of Java Island, Harun urged on a panel earlier this month, as reported by Indonesian newspaper Kompas.

The high-speed railway is not only the first in Indonesia, but also in Southeast Asia, where infrastructure development is in high demand. Experts see it as a demonstration of further infrastructure cooperation in the region.

"China's success in this high speed rail project would open up opportunities for other projects in Indonesia and other countries in Southeast Asia," Emirza Adi Syailendra, researcher at the S. Rajaratnam of International Studies (RSIS) of Nanyang Technological University, wrote in a commentary.

As Southeast Asia's largest economy, Indonesia has missed most of the economic targets in 2015 with the slowest growth since 2009. The government banks on infrastructure development and foreign investment as part of the ambitious push for economic growth.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said in a cabinet meeting earlier this month that he wanted to see infrastructure development accelerate this year, particularly in railway projects, Jakarta Post reported.

A well-timed completion of the Jakarta-Bandung railway will also serve President Widodo's administration as a major economic accomplishment, experts believe.

The project is slated to be completed by 2019, when a national election will take place.

"That would be a plus for the President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, who in all likelihood would run for a second term. It would be an enormous political boost for him," RSIS's Emirza wrote.