Current construction site conditions
In the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railroad construction project currently underway, China and Japan were battling for the order in 2015, and it was thought that the Japanese bullet train system using yen loans would be introduced, but the Indonesian government was attracted by China's proposal of zero financial burden, and the Japanese proposal was rejected.
At that time, rumors circulated that the Chinese submitted the same construction specifications as those submitted by the Japanese to the Indonesian side, and there was a lingering sense that Japan had been defeated in the negotiations by the clever Chinese companies.
Although the groundbreaking ceremony was held in January 2016, the expropriation of the land did not go smoothly, and full-scale construction finally started in July 2018 after more than a year of delay.
At the time, I was amazed at how fast Chinese capital could work as I watched the construction sites along the TOL (Highway) progressing at such a rapid pace, with foundations being dug, piers being placed, and bridge girders being hung.
According to the Indonesia-China High Speed Rail Company (KCIC), the original completion date of 2019 has been changed to the first half of 2021 (January-June), and the construction work has been temporarily halted due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus, and is now expected to be delayed until September 2022.
On October 22, 2019, during the construction of a bridge near the KM130 point of the Jakarta-Bandung Purbaleunyi highway (Jl. Tol Purbaleunyi), a hole was somehow made in the light oil pipe of the state-owned oil company Pertamina, which was passing through the site, and the leaked oil ignited, causing a fire in the fuel pipe laid at the construction site. The leaked oil ignited and caused a fire in the fuel pipe laid at the construction site.
Indonesia's request for cooperation with Japan?
Due to the fact that the completion schedule has been postponed several times and that the project has gone over budget despite the fact that the original proposal did not require Indonesia to bear any financial burden, unofficial news broke this month that the consortium for the construction of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railroad intends to add Japan, which is working on the Jakarta-Surabaya semi-high-speed project, to the consortium and promote the construction project with Japan's cooperation.
Indonesia wants to integrate the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railroad, which is currently under construction, with Japan's current plan to convert the existing railroad connecting Jakarta and Surabaya into a semi-high-speed line, and Japan and Indonesia have already agreed on the semi-high-speed line in September 2019.
But Japan has not received any official request from Indonesia for the extension of the high-speed rail line, and it has already been suggested that the narrow track width of the track envisioned in the semi-high-speed project makes it technically difficult to integrate it with the wider high-speed rail line.
Although the Jokowi administration is said to be pro-China, it has recently been at odds with China over the issue of illegal fishing by Chinese vessels in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Natuna Islands in the northern tip of Indonesia.
I don't know if Indonesia will formally request Japan's cooperation, but it is hoped that negotiations will be conducted with the highest priority on practicality, as this is an issue that Japan, which has agreed to the Jakarta-Surabaya semi-high speed rail project, cannot take lightly.