Railway construction became one of the supporting modes of transportation for equitable distribution growth and driving in national development. In South Sulawesi, railway construction is planned to be focused on improving the economy and connecting areas which have economic function and regional potential, either in agriculture, tourism, or other areas which are quite high.
In October 2022, South Sulawesi’s railway started its trial phase. But until today, the construction of the South Sulawesi railway still reaps many pros and cons. As reported by kompas.id on Sunday (30/10/22), the Executive Director of Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) of South Sulawesi, Muhammad Al Amin, rejected the construction of the Makassar-Maros railway. Al Amin stated that the construction of railway without analysis of environmental impacts (amdal) can potentially cause problems from both environmental and social aspects.
So, how do experts view this project? The following interview was conducted by Hasanuddin University Press (PK identitas Unhas) reporter, A Nursayyidatul Lutfiah with a professor expertise in transportation and Chairman of the South Sulawesi Indonesian Railway Society (Maska), Prof Dr Eng Ir Muhammad Isran Ramli ST MT.
What is the background of railway construction in South Sulawesi?
In this modern era, Eastern Indonesia’s infrastructure is developing very slowly. Talking about rail-based public transportation, the existence of this type of mass transportation is a necessity. If we take a deeper look, the development of public transportation certainly has its drawbacks, but the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
What are the advantages gained after the construction of the South Sulawesi railway is finished?
In fact, one of the indicators that a country is categorised as advanced could be seen from its main transportation system as its backbone. If we are talking about positive values, I suppose there’s many, for instance travel time and travel costs are absolutely more efficient and effective for society.
From a government perspective and train operators, the operation of trains anywhere in the world is not profitable from a financial standpoint, but this project is financially dominant subsidised by the government so that public interests can be served, which transportation needs from one to another place are affordable, quick and other transportation indicators. There are far more people who would like to enjoy railway operations than those who own land.
From a social perspective, the operation of railways is more advantageous to people, for example travel time would be more efficient, travel costs are affordable and take a lot of manpower.
What are the problems causing the construction of the railway in South Sulawesi?
In Indonesia, the construction of this railway is very sluggish because it must be realised that the construction of that mass transportation infrastructure requires funds that are not small, up to trillions of rupiah, as well as this South Sulawesi railway.
There is a classic problem where our society reacts in which it prioritises personal advantages over public interest. However, we must also not assert the public interest even if it is just one or two or a handful of people. Please don’t divide our society, but we also expect understanding from them, especially whoever has land for supporting the infrastructure’s construction of railways.
What kind of issues can threaten the survival of the society with the construction of South Sulawesi railway?
The direct impact of railway’s construction or operation are vibration and noise. For instance, in Java, Sumatera and developed countries, this case is not considered as an obstacle to the development of rail-based transportation infrastructure.
Honestly, the problem that hinders the construction of the Makassar-Parepare railway is also due to land acquisition. It should be asked, why one who has the land doesn’t want to sell it? Instead, the reverse impact is on all societies who are generally disadvantaged by the rejection of land acquisition of this rail route.
Why should it be focused on the construction of this railway and why should this be finished?
In an aggregate or group, costs of transportation can be more efficient because private transportation is much more expensive than public transportation. Seeing that society tends to move ‘door to door’ which includes unhealthy transportation because there is not much movement.
It is hoped that a new paradigm or culture of transportation can be built from unhealthy to healthy transportation. However, when using public transportation such as trains, we have to keep a schedule and move orderly. It is termed in developed countries that public transportation builds healthy transportation for the community. Another benefit from the society side is the opening of jobs.
What are your expectations for the future regarding this construction of South Sulawesi Railways?
For the government, please resolve this land acquisition issue and do not become an obstacle to the construction of rail route infrastructure in Eastern Indonesia, South Sulawesi in particular because it is the dream of most people. We would also appreciate the efforts of the government that has built this existing infrastructure through a national development project.
Name: Prof Dr Eng Muhammad Isran Ramli ST MT
Place and Date of Birth: Pare-Pare, 26th September 1973
S1 Civil Engineering (Transportation Engineering)
S2 Civil Engineering (Transportation Engineering)
S3 Urban and Environmental Engineering (Transportation Planning)
Translator: Nabila Rifqah Awaluddin & Muhammad Alif M.