High-speed rail project halt denied

Updated: 2016-01-30 03:23

By Wang Xu,Li Xiaokun(China Daily)

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Chinese and Indonesian authorities dismissed on Friday reports that construction of Southeast Asia's first high-speed railway had been halted, saying the project is ongoing.

The rail project linking the Indonesian capital of Jakarta with Bandung in western Java, which was just inaugurated by Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Jan 21, had already been mired in confusion about its status.

"The information that the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail has been halted is not correct," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a news briefing.

But earlier, Indonesian media cited Indonesian Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan as saying that the 142-kilometer rail had been delayed by incomplete paperwork and issues that could not be resolved. Because of this, media reported, the government could not issue the building permit and the concession agreement to the contractor, PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia-China.

Xinhua News Agency cited sources with Chinese personnel on the project as saying that all the necessary paperwork had been submitted and the approval process was ongoing.

Hua said China expects to collaborate with Indonesia so that the project will quickly benefit the people of that country.

The project remains a priority for the Indonesian government, and reports saying it had been "halted" did not come through official channels, the Indonesian embassy in Beijing told China Daily on Friday.

Santo Darmosumarto, counselor of social and cultural affairs at the embassy, said the project was definitely "ongoing" and the Indonesian government had issued a presidential decree in January that listed it as one of its 225 priority projects for this year.

A high-placed China Railway Corp official who is involved with the project said on condition of anonymity on Friday that the rail is "progressing smoothly".

The $5.5 billion line is being developed by PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia-China, a consortium involving Indonesian state-owned companies and China Railway International Co Ltd, a subsidiary of China Railway Corp. It is scheduled for completion in 2019. Seventy-five percent of the funding is being financed through a China Development Bank loan.

Jia Jinjing, director of the macro research department at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, said reports that the project was stalled reflect a complex of interests in the competition behind the rail. The rail deal was signed in October, after months of competition between China and Japan and a last-minute change of mind by Indonesia.

Contact the writers at lixiaokun@chinadaily.com.cn