Indonesia: High-speed train project under scrutiny after reported theft of construction materials

Posted on 16 November 2021

Construction of the long-awaited Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway project has hit another speed bump after it was revealed that more than 100 tonnes of steel beams had been stolen over the last six months.

The theft was first uncovered on Oct 30 after security officials from the project’s construction site in Cipinang Melayu subdistrict, East Jakarta, as well as local residents, caught the alleged thieves as they were loading the steel beams onto a truck.

The steel beams were later identified as belonging to state-owned construction firm PT Wijaya Karya, the constructor of the project.

Upon being discovered, the alleged thieves fled the scene, leaving their truck behind.

The police were able to track down and detain five of them on Nov 3, antaranews.com reported, while an additional seven are still at large.

The police said the group had stolen and sold 111 tonnes of steel over the last six months, resulting in an estimated loss of one billion rupiah (RM290,000).

If found guilty, they could face up to seven years in prison.

East Jakarta police chief Sr Comr. Erwin Kurniawan said the police will gather testimonies from Wijaya Karya to investigate possible links between the firm’s employees and the suspects.

“There are indications [that Wijaya Karya employees] working on-site [may be involved]. We will continue our investigation to identify all parties involved,” Erwin said on Monday as quoted by kompas.com.

Wijaya Karya’s corporate communication coordinator, Fekum Ariesbowo, said on Tuesday that the company would wait until the police have finished their investigation before commenting on the possible involvement of its employees in the theft.

Mirza Soraya, the corporate secretary of PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC), the consortium responsible for the project, said in a statement on Thursday that the project’s construction progress had not been affected by the incident, adding that the stolen beams were not a main construction component for the project.

“The main construction [materials] of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway project are safe. The stolen steels are mainly used for temporary support [structures] such as H-beams, scaffolding and so on, and not reinforced irons to be used for the train tracks or train stations,” Mirza said as quoted by kompas.com.

The high-speed train is owned by joint venture company KCIC, which is 40 percent owned by a consortium of Chinese companies and 60 percent owned by PT Pilar Sinergi BUMN Indonesia (PSBI), a consortium of four Indonesian state-owned enterprises (SOE).

The project is meant to cut travel time between Jakarta and Bandung, West Java, down to around 45 minutes from the current three hours.

The project’s developers aim to have the train operational by the end of next year.

News of the stolen beams came amid financial problems for the Jakarta-Bandung high speed railway project, as the project’s budget has swelled by Rp 27.17 trillion to Rp 113.9 trillion as of September, many because of land acquisition problems, overoptimistic planning and poor project management.

As a result of the project’s financial problems, the Finance Ministry has announced a plan to inject Rp 4.3 trillion from the state budget into the project in order to complete it.

Source : Jakarta Post