Current affairs

Jakarta MRT has been officially opened!

2019/04/17


The journey from the start of MRT construction to its official opening

Five and a half years after construction began, the Mass Rapid Transit MRT (Mass Rapid Transit in English or Moda Raya Terpadu in Indonesian) North-South Line finally officially opened in Jakarta on the 1st of this month.

I think that the Indonesians are in the middle of going to the polling stations right now, but I am sure that Mr. Jokowi's reputation has risen, at least for the voters in Jakarta.

However, at the beginning of the construction, many people wondered if the MRT project would really be finished at the end. Isn't it going to get derailed in the middle again? I was skeptical because I routinely saw the decaying pillars of the monorail project, which began construction in 2004 and was cancelled in 2014, that still remain on Rasuna Said Street in Kuningan and Asia Afrika Street in Senayan.

The monorail project, which was decided under the governorship of Sutiyosodjakarta Special Province, started in 2004 at Asia Afrika Street and 2005 at Rasuna Said Street, but was halted in 2006 when no investor was found. Governor Fawzi in 2007 and Governor Jokowi in 2013 both sought to restart the project, but eventually became governor of Ahok in 2014 and cancelled it completely.

Adhi Karya, which owns the remnants of the decaying pillars, has been contracted for the ongoing LRT (Light Rail Transit in English or Lintas Rel Terpadu in Indonesian) project.

LRT construction going through the remnants of the monorail pillars

LRT construction going through the remnants of the monorail pillars

The biggest highlight of this MRT project is the shield method excavation of the subway section of section 6 that connects Bundaran HI Station to Senayan Station, where President Jokowi and Governor Ahok (Basuki Tjahaja Purnama a.k.a. Ahok) witnessed the moment of penetration at Setiabudi Station in February 2017.

At that time, I could not have imagined that three months later, in May, Governor Ahok would be sentenced to "two years in prison and immediate imprisonment" for blasphemy and public hate speech (saying at a campaign rally that "Muslims can't vote for me because they're being misled with the Koran").

I was working at the office building in front of the Bundaran HI station at the time, and I was able to see the changes in the MRT project up close.

But before we knew it, in 2014, we were plunged into the excavation of the underground station building, with no idea what exactly the process of fencing being built, gutters dug, overpasses removed, and heavy equipment digging holes.

The operation involved building underground station buildings comprising concourse and platform floors first at six locations at Bundaran HI, Dukuh Atas, Setiabudi, Benhil, Istora and Senayan and connecting the stations with underground tunnels through shield mining, with two excavators going south from Bundaran HI and two excavators going north from the south mine south of Senayan, each in a separate day-long joint venture.

  • Southbound Team: Sumitomo Mitsui Construction and Hutama Karya
    Bundaran HI⇒Dukuh Atas⇒Setiabudi
  • Kitakami Team: Shimizu Corporation, Obayashi Corporation, Wika Jaya
    Nankeng ⇒ Senayan ⇒ Istora ⇒ Setiabudi

In 2012, when the current President Jokowi was governor of Jakarta State, he and his deputy, Mr. Ahok, made a political decision to build the MRT, which had been postponed for 30 years even though it had been planned, won the presidential election in October 2014, and today, Wednesday, April 17, is the second presidential election, and I think President Jokowi is a person of great fortune who is good at riding the bandwagon.

When the construction started, I used to take pictures of the MRT construction from the overpass where I went to have lunch at Plaza Indonesia.

I managed to get on the MRT in April!

Bundaran HI Station

Bundaran HI Station entrance, Japanese Embassy on the left

I was going to get off at the West Bekasi exit, where my office is located, on the way back from my client's appointment in Karawang, which was cancelled in the morning, when I suddenly remembered that I wanted to take the MRT in April.

I parked my car at the parking lot of Plaza Indonesia and went down to the concourse from the ground entrance of Bundaran HI station along the steep stairs that got wet with rain and became slippery.

The moment you touch your BIZZRI card at the automatic ticket gates for a second or two, I was very nervous, but what you are actually doing is not much different from using a Suica on the Japanese subway, and the view until you get off the escalator at the platform is just like the Japanese subway.

Inside the MRT, the green advertisements of GOJEK and the light blue of the plastic seat match well with the bright atmosphere of a tropical subway, and the train proceeds quietly and without shaking so much that you can stand up without holding a strap or handrail.

After leaving Bundaran HI station and passing Senayan station, the light on the ground from the south exit of the tunnel gradually became stronger and stronger.

It takes only 15 minutes to go from Bundaran HI to Blok M, which may take 2 hours by car in the evening traffic jam, but it takes only 15 minutes.

After having a pork lunch at Blok M Square food court, I drove to the last stop, Lebak burus station on the ground, and I felt that the view of South Jakarta filled with greenery when driving a right angle sharp curve from Cipte Raya station to Fatmawati station is the best part of the MRT ground section.

There were so many Indonesians, young and old, men and women, both in the station form and on the train, taking commemorative photos, and I could feel how much everyone was waiting for the MRT, and how excited everyone was because the MRT was so much more complete than expected.

BZZRI e-card

BRIZZI e-card I used this time

Automatic ticket vending machine at Blok M station

An automatic ticket vending machine at Blok M station

Blok M Station Automatic Turnstile Entrance

Blok M Station Automatic Turnstile Entrance

Bundaran HI Station Underground Platform

Bundaran HI Station Underground Platform

GOJEK ad-filled car interior

GOJEK's ad-filled car interior

LEBAK BULUS station

There were a lot of people taking memorial photos and I felt the tension was high.

Bundaran HI Station

I've been observing Bundaran HI Station since the construction started.

Other information

  • 50% off until May 12 and regular rates from the 13th.
  • From the northernmost Hotel Indonesia Front Square Station (Bundaran HI)
  • ⇒Rp.3000 (just under 20 yen) for the shortest section
  • ⇒Rp.8000 (just under 60 yen) to BlokM
  • ⇒Southernmost Lebak Bulus at Rp.14,000 (just under 100 yen)
  • In Indonesia, prices are high due to inflation, but I think they have kept the prices down in order to establish themselves as citizens' feet.
  • You need a top-up card issued by a bank.
  • You can also buy a top-up card at the station. There are no paper tickets in Japan.
  • The MRT connects the city of Jakarta, but construction of the LRT (Light Rail Transit), which connects the city to the suburbs, is currently underway. This will be a vehicle used by a Korean company.
  • The second phase of the project will extend from Central Jakarta to North Jakarta. Also, it's still in the planning stages, but there seems to be a plan for an east-west line.

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