Indonesia is again delaying the opening of a China-funded high-speed train, citing safety concerns.
(Bloomberg) — Indonesia is again delaying the opening of a China-funded high-speed train, citing safety concerns.
The soft launch of the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway will be pushed back to September, instead of Aug. 18, even if the commercial opening is still set for Oct. 1, its operator said on Tuesday. The company needs more time to prioritize the safety and comfort of customers, it said in the statement.
“The implication is more political than technical as Jokowi had expected the rail commencement to be part of independence day commemoration,” said Sulfikar Amir, an academic at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University who researches on Indonesia’s infrastructure. “This delay will only worsen the public image of this project.”
President Joko Widodo has a habit of setting infrastructure milestones around Indonesia’s independence day on Aug. 17. He also plans to celebrate the national day at the new capital next year.
The postponement deals another blow to Jokowi’s flagship project, which has already suffered land disputes, cost overruns and accidents that led to years of delay. The rush to get the country’s first high-speed rail running well before he steps down next year could compromise safety. Construction flaws have plagued other projects in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, including cracks found at hydropower plants in Ecuador and Pakistan.
Transport analysts have criticized the rail operator’s move to seek a temporary operating permit, instead of a full license that would require a certain safety, manpower and maintenance standards, local newspaper The Jakarta Post reported on Tuesday.
“We must not force the issue of operating licenses without any guarantee of safety,” said Sutanto Soehodho, who teaches transportation at the University of Indonesia.
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