The funding of this project is crucial for its timely execution, what is your opinion on how funding can be best sourced?

You need to be innovative to find finance for this type of project. Investments like MRT, if it isn’t accelerated then opportunities will be missed: merely the first 15 km will not address Jakarta’s traffic jam problems. How do you convince the people of Jakarta to use the MRT instead of their cars, how do you change their mindset? For this we need more interconnection and absolutely more investment.

What is your role as the new President Director of the MRT project and what are the expectations of the local authorities of you?

My main task is to accelerate the first phase. We are also trying to accelerate the next phases 2, 3, 4 and try to find various financing mechanisms for these stages. Also integration with other transport options like the Trans Jakarta, LRT, Rail, and the airport. All this is focussed on bringing economic opportunity to the cities.

Since we don’t have a local model we will naturally look to our neighbours like Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur. Outside ASEAN we see New Delhi as a model, because they have a similar challenge, change the way the city moves and lives. The main challenge in Jakarta is how to take the middle class off the streets, the people that have two or three cars.

That’s already 3 or 4 jobs in one. First of all simply connecting the stations is difficult and and then you also mentioned the other mass transport systems which also need to be integrated.

I call it a 3 in 1 approach because first you build the infrastructure ,you do the acceleration, not just the first line but also the second the third line. Number one is infrastructure , number two is operation and maintenance and number three is business development, the transit oriented development business integration. This encapsulates the complexity of what we are currently building.

If cities have a better accessibility their property prices will also rise and so on, it should be a win win, no?

Exactly, it means more opportunity for business and for you. For example more people will stay there because now the journey to reach Jakarta CBD only takes 30 minutes and suddenly instead of living in the city you are better off living outside of Jakarta because the transit is easier or faster. To do this we are working not just with transport providers but all the business actors. This is the instrument to trigger the new lifestyle and a new culture for the economics of Jakarta.

How is the cooperative side of the operation progressing?

We are working with Jakpro , we are working with Transjakarta. The bus service should be our closest ally, jakpro is more interested in theory development. Transjakarta more with regards the transport connection, at a national level for example we are working with the state owned enterprise like PT KeretaApi , some of the construction state own enterprises like Wika. We are working with the central government in regulating the railway and with the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Planning: we need their support in order for us to be able to be more dynamic, more flexible in terms of addressing the innovative financing mechanism. We need the licence to operate as well as construct.

And ideally you will operate for profit…

Yes, but until we can run at a profit, the main intention is we operate a public service, providing transport at the rate the government wants and in the long run working for that profit so we can reduce the subsidy and not rely on the government.

What about financing, when and how do you plan to attract international investors?

At the moment we are focussed on the first phase which is heavily government funded, but we are in discussion with several developers across Jakarta, on how to develop a B to B partnership with developing the infrastructure , the operation and the business opportunity.

I am sure this business is attractive and instead of becoming government subsidised transport providers we are trying to put it to the market, make it profitable and professional. But you are a public service so have to meet government standards. So this is a unique position for us between the public and the private.

How do you see the government’s plan, and their infrastructure going forward, especially with regards to your own plans?

“The government should see MRT as the trigger for development of the country, benefit for the welfare of the people, for economic opportunity.”

Any investment that the government brings through needs to improve the quality of service and once this happens you are not just solving the transport issue but you bring economic opportunity to the region.