High-speed railway construction causes environmetal problem in West Java

Posted by on 29 Oktober 2019


West Java Governor Ridwal Kamil will summon representatives from PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC) and other related parties in charge of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway project following a construction mishap that led to a fatal explosion from an underground oil pipe belonging to state-owned energy company Pertamina near a toll road in Bandung, West Java, last week.

The governor will also discuss other cases of environmental risks and hazards in several regions that were allegedly caused by the high-speed railway project, including noticeable cracks within the walls of a local residence near the construction site in Laksana Mekar village, Padalarang district, West Bandung.

“I demand professionalism and strict adherence to the standard operating procedures. I’m aware it’s a highly anticipated project, but please complete it in an orderly and safe fashion so as to not disrupt the lives of local residents,” Ridwan said.

“I’ve recapitulated the number of reported cases and summoned several regional heads to discuss their problems [related to the high-speed railway construction]. Among the affected regions are Cimahi, Bandung, West Bandung and Purwakarta regency.”

The high-speed railway project is one of the government's national strategic projects in the transportation sector, constructed with Chinese assistance and a total investment of US$6.07 billion. The railway will travel at 350 kilometers per hour, cutting travel time between Jakarta and Bandung in West Java to 45 minutes, faster than the three and half hours on a normal train.

Land procurement for the project has neared 100 percent completion, with an overall development progress of 30 percent.

“We move forward with the project. Accidents happen from time to time, but I’m making sure they don’t occur [frequently],” Ridwan said, adding that he expected the high-speed train to commence operations by the first semester of 2021.

Having previously met with Pertamina’s sales area manager in Bandung, Sylvia Grace Yuvena, and its fuel terminal manager in Bandung, Bambang Supriyono, Ridwan said the explosion from the company’s underground oil pipe was due to a procedural blunder on KCIC’s part.

“In accordance with procedures, any construction near Pertamina pipes must be supervised by the company to make sure that none of the pipes are at risk of being damaged by heavy machinery,” he said.

“Furthermore, contractors are only allowed to drill 3 meters under the surface. However, these two procedures were not fulfilled, resulting in an accident.”

The incident, which took place at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, claimed the life of Li Xuan Feng, a heavy machinery operator with PT Mingshun Construction, who was working on the railway project during the accident.

“The fire was caused by a pipe belonging to KCIC hitting Pertamina’s fuel pipe,” state-owned toll operator Jasa Marga said in a statement circulated on Tuesday.

The damaged pipe served as a supply line for fuel oil from Pertamina’s Ujung Berung depot to the Padalarang depot. Ridwan said Pertamina had promptly severed the supply line, which would be rerouted to a new pipe across the damaged one.

“The public can rest assured, gas stations still operate normally with a supply capacity of 250 km per hour,” he said.

Another reported instance of environmental hazard that caught the governor’s attention was the appearance of noticeable cracks within the walls of a neighborhood unit head’s house in Laksana Mekar village, which was allegedly triggered by vibrations and loud noise from a nearby KCIC construction site.

Homeowner Heru Agam said he could still vividly recall the jolts on Sept. 24 that were caused by a shockwave from an explosion over the hills less than 400 m away from his house and where the construction of tunnel number 11 for the high-speed railway project was taking place.

“There were a couple of explosions on that first day, in the morning and the afternoon. The vibrations were strongest on the third day; so strong, in fact, that bottles in my cupboard fell to the floor,” Heru said when The Jakarta Post visited his house on Thursday.

In the wake of the explosions, he said he began to notice cracks within the walls of his home, including in the living room and kitchen. Floor tiles on Heru’s front porch also appeared as though they had shifted from their original position.

Heru went on to say that his house was among the 120 houses in the village affected by the explosions.

“People in charge of the construction have come down here to look at the impact of their work,” he said, adding that they failed to produce an environmental permit document (Amdal) upon requests from local residents.

KCIC spokesperson Deni Yusdiana was unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

The National Geology Agency’s Volcanology and Disaster Mitigation Center identified the soil subsidence taking place in Padalarang district, West Java regency between September and October as “moderate”. According to the agency’s map, the area is prone to further subsidence should precipitation exceed normal levels. (rfa)

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