Don’t rush Greater Jakarta LRT, Jokowi says after unexpected snags

President Jokowi explained that the train is the country’s first fully homegrown infrastructure project, and so it is acceptable if there are initially some problems in its operation.

Aditya Hadi

Aditya Hadi

The Jakarta Post


Don't rush Greater Jakarta LRT, Jokowi says after unexpected snags A Greater Jakarta light rail transit train passes on Wednesday, July 12, 2023, during a trial run. PHOTO: ANTARA/THE JAKARTA POST

August 4, 2023

JAKARTA – President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has pointed out that there is no need to rush the opening of the Greater Jakarta light rail transit (LRT) system to the general public, citing that safety must be a priority.

Jokowi made his remarks after trying the new LRT, and even after the deputy state-owned enterprises (SOEs) minister unintentionally publicly revealed that problems beset the project development, the President still praised the train for being “smooth” and “comfortable” after riding it three times on Monday.

President Jokowi explained that the train is the country’s first fully homegrown infrastructure project, and so it is acceptable if there are initially some problems in its operation.

He also ensured that any problems that emerge would be fixed, especially anything related to safety.

“Don’t expect the operation to be perfect. No, there must be improvement in the system and technical aspects,” Jokowi said in a statement on Thursday.

“All of it is made by us. So, if there are any deficiencies, we should understand,” he added, further explaining that the trains were locally manufactured by state-owned producer INKA, while the construction was done by state-owned firm Adhi Karya.

The President reminded everyone not to read too much into the issues, which are to be expected in any country’s maiden construction of an LRT system.

He believes that the entire planning process for the LRT project has been done thoroughly.

“However, in reality, sometimes adjustments need to be made. I think it’s normal,” he stated.

Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said in a statement that the government involved experienced consultants and followed the applicable standards in designing the LRT.

The Public Works and Housing Ministry has also approved the design and construction of the project, he added.

“As a new homegrown project, it’s amazing. A driverless [train] and made by Indonesian people. There are many challenges that we need to face in building it,” Budi said.

Following the President’s visit, he assured there would be further improvements made in the LRT project.

The government also decided to postpone the launch to the end of August, mainly because of the ongoing trial process that is being conducted by Siemens, which is responsible for supplying the automation software for the trains.

“We asked for suggestions from the President, and he said that we need to [continue] the trial. If we succeed, then we will open [for public]. It can be until August 20 or August 30,” Budi said on Thursday, as quoted by

Previously, the project was scheduled to be commercially operable by Aug. 18, just a day after the country’s Independence Day celebration.

The decision adds to multiple delays that have affected the project, as it was first scheduled to begin operations last year, and then in June of this year.

Aside from operational delays, state railway company Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI), which operates the LRT, suspended the limited public trial run just four days after it started on July 13 to make software improvements and fix system glitches.

Initially, the limited public trial run was planned to resume on July 29, but it was later postponed to Aug. 5.

Design mistakes

Deputy SOEs Minister Kartika Wirjoatmodjo spoke in an internal session held by state-owned tourism holding company InJourney on Monday, which the company accidently streamed on YouTube.

The video was removed quickly by the company.

During the session, Kartika shared his best practices in handling projects and SOEs, including methods to implement projects despite challenges that are stalling it, using the Greater Jakarta LRT as an example.

Kartika revealed that the bridge connecting the LRT track in Kuningan to Gatot Subroto Street is poorly designed.

According to Kartika, Adhi Karya built the bridge without testing the turning angle of the trains, resulting in an problematically narrow track.

“So, the train should run really slow [in passing the bridge], only 20 kilometers per hour. If the bridge was built wider, the train could turn at a higher speed,” he said.

The mistakes, he said, happened because of miscommunication between the construction firm and other companies involved in the project.

He said the LRT project has six main components, including the infrastructure construction from Adhi Karya, trains from INKA, automation software from Siemens and a signaling system from state-owned PT Len Industri.

“However, there was no system integrator [when I started to handle the project]. Thus, all project components operated wildly without an integrator. We later created a project management office (PMO) that could ensure the integration,” Kartika said.

The project also faced an unexpected increment software cost for its automation feature, as all the trains produced by INKA turned out to have different specifications.

“Siemens called me for a meeting. They said that the trains differ in their speed and braking mechanisms. All 31 trains are different,” he stated.

Because of the problem, Siemens needs to make the software allow for the variety of specifications, he said.

The tweak is extremely important as LRT trains are driverless, and the software needs to be able to stop the trains at exactly the right place so that the train doors can connect properly with the stations’ gates.

The SOEs Ministry was not immediately available for comment.

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