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Indonesia calls for self-inspection amid stagnant high-speed railway project

(People's Daily Online)    14:01, January 11, 2018

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Indonesian authorities on Tuesday called for a review of the country’s Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway project, noting that the torpid construction schedule is not being caused by Chinese investors, but by the Indonesian government itself.

“It’s not a financing issue. The problem is with ourselves, and we need to know, for example, whether a high-speed rail link between Bandung and Jakarta, which are only 140 kilometers apart, is a necessary project,” said Maritime Affairs Coordinating Minister Luhut Pinsar Pandjaitan on Tuesday as reported by the Jakarta Post.

According to Luhut, China, as the major investor in the project, is still committed to the agreement, which had already been signed by the governments of both countries. He also noted that the government would evaluate the project as requested by President Joko Widodo, while the evaluation would be completed within a month.

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The evaluation is the Indonesian government’s latest response to public doubts regarding the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway, which is a joint project signed by China and Indonesia. As the project’s land acquisition makes slow progress, many locals have shown their discontent over the stagnant project.

“The government’s decision to evaluate the project might be a good thing. The Chinese side has done everything to ensure that the project runs smoothly. The problem lies with the Indonesian government, which is inefficient and heel-dragging,” said Liu Quanning, a Chinese worker in Jakarta.

According to the Chinese Embassy in Indonesia, the Jakarta-Bandung railway is China’s first attempt to promote a complete set of its high-speed railway system and is an icon for China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

The Chinese side has attached great importance to the project. Just 10 days after his arrival to Indonesia, Xiao Qian, China’s new ambassador to Indonesia, visited the project’s construction site on Jan. 8, urging Chinese companies to accelerate the project and complete it as soon as possible.

Though the evaluation has caused uneasy feelings among the Chinese community in Indonesia in fear of a possible change or even cancellation of the project, Luhut promised that there was no change to the financing scheme, as the funding would still come from China as previously agreed.

“We have to respect the agreement,” he was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Post.

Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway, a 142-km-long railway project, is the first such project in Indonesia, as well as in the region of Southeast Asia. Once complete, it will shorten the traveling time between the two cities from three hours to 40 minutes and spur economic activities along the line.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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