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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                    20  September 2011

Jakarta monorail project stopped

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After seven years and hundreds of billions of rupiah in public money, Jakarta on Monday finally pulled the plug on the city's abortive monorail project.

Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo said the often acrimonious relationship with the monorail's developer was now over.

"I really want there to be clarity in this monorail case, so we are ending our agreement with Jakarta Monorail because we cannot pay the Rp 600 billion [US$68 million] investment that it demands to be reimbursed," Fauzi said.

Jakarta Monorail, a consortium of Indonesian and foreign firms, was in charge of the project that had been in limbo since 2004, following difficulties in finding funding for the scheme.

If completed, the monorail would have had two lines. One 14.3-kilometer loop serving Jakarta's business districts and one 13.5 km line from Kampung Melayu to Roxy via Casablanca and Tanah Abang. There were to have been interchange stations at Casablanca and Karet linking the lines.

Jakarta Monorail has since 2007 demanded the Rp 600 billion in reparation for work it completed. Scores of now-rusting and graffiti-covered pillars were partially built in 2004 in the Senayan and Kuningan areas.

Fauzi said that lawyers and city legal officials would soon issue a new agreement to replace the old one. The Development and Finance Audit Board (BPKP) has recommended that the authorities pay a lesser amount in compensation to Jakarta Monorail, he added. "I will abide by the BPKP recommendation that sets the maximum at Rp 204 billion."

Fauzi said that Jakarta only wanted public transportation that was cost-efficient, and with the monorail project scrapped, it would seek an alternative system of mass public transportation that would have a larger capacity and a lower construction cost.

He did not elaborate, but Jakarta has for years planned a separate mass rapid transit railway, partially elevated and partially underground. Construction of the first phase, a 20 km north-south line, is due to start early next year and be operational in 2016. A second phase, a much longer east-west line, will follow.

Meanwhile, officials have said that they were mulling finishing the monorail pillars and using them to support a flyover instead.

The original monorail project was halted largely because of difficulties in finding investors. The Dubai Islamic Bank initially showed interest in the project, but sought guarantees in case the monorail fell short of its goal of 160,000 passengers per day, which some observers saw as too ambitious. The Jakarta authorities had floated a figure of 120,000.



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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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