"The project is not only to build the first metro system in Indonesia but also to create a new way of life in terms of a culture of public transport."
Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia is one of the fastest growing urban regions in the world, the largest city in the ASEAN region with a population of over 10 million people. However, that’s only part of the story, its metropolitan region is growing at such a pace that it has been given its own name, Jabodetabek (for the initials of the cities within it - Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi) and has a total population of almost 30 million. As a result of this growth, the limited existing public transport struggles to cope, and traffic congestion is widespread across the city and nearly as big a problem as pollution levels. An answer is being sought in public transport, namely the Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit (Jakarta MRT), a rapid transit system that is currently under construction Ground was broken in 2013 with Phase One of the project set to open to the public in Summer 2019. The President Director of Jakarta MRT Dono Boestami recently sat down with Sarah Wright of SmartRail World to share some of his experiences...
Sarah Wright (SW): How did you get into the rail industry?
Dono Boestami (DB): For me getting into the rail industry was actually unplanned. The Provincial Government of DKI Jakarta decided to replace the whole management team of MRT Jakarta, both the Board of Directors and Board of Commissioners. At the same time, I was trying to find a way to meet the governor to pitch advisory work. By luck, my friend asked me if I was interested in working for Jakarta MRT and said he could set up a meeting with the Governor. I agreed to the meeting but my main objective was to pitch advisory work to the government and not to join MRT!
So I took all my credentials and a presentation with me but when I met the Vice Governor he didn't let me do my presentation because he was more interested in finding a new CEO for MRT Jakarta. After we had a short conversation, he brought me to meet the Governor himself, Joko Widodo (a.k.a. Jokowi), who is now the current President of Republic of Indonesia. After less than five minutes of the meeting, the Governor agreed and ask me to join MRT Jakarta. I didn't say yes right away because I had only just joined a new company where I was helping the Chairman of the company, Bapak Sofyan Djalil (the current Minister of Agrarian and Spatial Planning). Instead, I told the Vice Governor to speak directly to pak Sofyan. He did and after a shareholders meeting I was appointed as the CEO in March 2013 along with three other directors. Not long after that new Board Commissioner was also appointed.
SW: That’s a great story, so what do like most about your job?
DB: It is a very challenging job involving at least seven ministry offices directly and indirectly. The project was long overdue. It was planned almost 30 years ago and has gone through six different Indonesian presidents. The company, MRT Jakarta was established in 2008 but was not able to get the project started. It is the first of its kind in Indonesia and one of National Priority Project. The project is not only to build the first metro system in Indonesia but also to create a new way of life in terms of a culture of public transport.
SW: What’s the biggest challenge in your role?
DB: As I mentioned, it is dealing with so many different stakeholders, the seven ministry offices, the new technology we are building, working with the Regional Parliament (DPRD), bureaucracy and dealing with the general public. No one in the country has any experiences in handling or dealing with this type of mega-project. The project is the first of its type to be implemented in the country and the involves many contractors and consultants all of whom need to be coordinated.
SW: What will be some of the biggest differences between rail now and in 10 years’ time?
DB: After the completion of Phase I in 2018, we will continue with Phase II of South-North corridor. After that we will continue with the East-West corridor. Our target is for both corridors to be completed by 2025. Within the next 10 years I hope that we will have not just the MRT network but also the Light Rail Transit (LRT) network, plus high-speed rail. For sure it will change the whole landscape of the Indonesian railway industry; it will also change the way people travel and it will create a new urban areas by creating sustainable cities.
SW: And finally, what is your favourite rail journey?
DB: So far at least, I’d say it’s the train from Ulan Bator to the Gobi Desert in Mongolia.
SW: Many thanks. Look forward to hearing more in Bangkok for SmartRail Asia!
Want to hear more about Jakarta MRT and the plans for the future of public transport in Indonesia? Then book your free pass for SmartRail Asia 2016 where Dono Boestami will join us as an expert speaker.
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