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Traffic crawls next to a construction site for a commuter line in Jakarta. (Antara Foto)
Asia Insight

Indonesia lives dangerously with $355bn infrastructure drive

State enterprises are racking up debt to keep projects going

WATARU SUZUKI, Nikkei staff writer | Indonesia

JAKARTA -- Indonesia's state-owned enterprises minister had a joke ready when she arrived late to an infrastructure conference in September. "The traffic jams are getting worse because we are building so many projects," Rini Soemarno told the audience.

The truth is often spoken in jest, and as many of Jakarta's 10 million residents will tell you, the city known for the world's worst traffic has become even more clogged. Dati Wijayanti, who works in central Jakarta, said she has to leave her home in Bogor, on the outskirts of the capital, before dawn if she wants to make it to her office in less than two and a half hours. "We are trapped whichever way we go," she said, due to the construction of underpasses, overpasses and rail transit networks.

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