Jakarta. The Indonesian government said on Wednesday (02/05) that it is seeking ways to accelerate the $5 billion Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail project being built by a consortium of local and Chinese state firms, which is facing obstacles from land ownership issues.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is due to meet President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Monday during a trip to Jakarta to mark the 15th anniversary of China's partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
The high-speed rail line, the country's first, is a flagship project of Jokowi and was awarded to China in 2015 after a contentious race with Japan.
State-owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno visited the project site on Wednesday with China Railway Corporation (CRC) general manager Lu Dongfu to monitor progress and "to find ways to accelerate" it, according to a ministry statement.
About 2,700 square meters of ground had been compacted for the first tunnel of the 150-kilometer line, the ministry said.
But ownership rights for nearly 40 percent of land had yet to be resolved, it said.
CRC has promised the project will be completed within three years of land clearance being completed, although it was not clear when that would happen, Ridwan, deputy coordinating minister of maritime affairs, said after meeting with Lu and Chinese Ambassador Xiao Qian.
"Some critical points have been cleared, like for some tunnels and the main stations," Ridwan said.
The government previously said construction had kicked off in January 2016 and was supposed to be completed by 2019.
But Coordinating Maritime Minister Luhut Pandjaitan was quoted by media earlier this year that it may take until 2024 before the railway could be of use.
The consortium building the project, which includes CRC and Indonesia's Wijaya Karya and Jasa Marga, signed a $4.5 billion loan agreement with the China Development Bank (CDB) in May last year.
Wijaya Karya, or Wika, announced that the company has received $170 million from CDB last week as the first part of the loan disbursement, allowing it to accelerate work on the track structure, architecture, landscape as well as the mechanical and electrical system.
"Wika will utilize these funds optimally to foster stakeholders' confidence in Indonesia's future transportation development project," Wika chief executive Tumiyana said in a statement.