Yudo Dahono, Jakarta – The State-Owned Enterprises Ministry has devised a plan to extend the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed train project to Surabaya in East Java to improve connectivity on the island of Java – the most densely populated region in Indonesia – and to create new jobs for local workers during the coronavirus crisis.
The government expects the extension of the project would also encourage more economic activities, tourism and investment in regions passed by the rail network.
The chairman of the National Workers Union, Puji Santoso, said the national strategic project (PSN) would create new jobs and help the government tackle rising unemployment caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"A large number of workers will be needed for the project's construction. Digital technology will take over after that. If the government could reduce unemployment by extending this project, that would be a good step," Puji said on Thursday.
Puji hoped the government would prioritize hiring local workers for the project since the construction phase. "Hiring foreign workers would be unfair to many Indonesians who desperately need jobs," Puji said.
He pointed out that article 27 of the 1945 Constitution says the government must prioritize the recruitment of local workers.
SOE Minister Erick Thohir has been carrying out President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's instructions to restart a host of national strategic projects in the middle of the pandemic.
"The president says the high-speed train project would be more economical if it's extended to Surabaya," he said.
Erick said the project would kickstart the national economy and create new jobs during the coronavirus crisis.
"We must stay optimistic. The government wants to create more employment opportunities. Extending the bullet train project would attract an very large number of workers," he said.