Indonesia hit a milestone in February this year. After close to two years of laborious construction, the four massive drills boring shafts up to 26 metres below Jakarta met, signalling the completion of the nation’s first ever mass rapid transit (MRT) tunnels stretching between the north and south of the capital city.

Once fully completed, the MRT promises to get the capital city’s commuters from Lebak Bulus in South Jakarta to the Hotel Indonesia roundabout in Central Jakarta within 30 minutes. Currently, it takes approximately one hour to travel between both points—and that is if the traffic is good.

In the same month that the drills connected the tunnels, the government signed a memorandum of understanding for the construction of five toll roads. The roads, worth Rp50.9 trillion (US$3.81 billion) and stretching as far as 362.03 kilometres in total, will connect key areas around Medan in North Sumatera, Banten and Cikampek in West Java, and Krian in East Java.

The toll road and the MRT projects, the latter costing Rp14.18 trillion (US$1.11 billion) for the first phase of construction, are just some of the many ambitious infrastructure projects the government under President Jokowi has been feverishly working on.

The president’s goal is to fulfil his campaign promises of enhancing the welfare of Indonesia’s 250 million people through the construction of infrastructure that will provide people, especially those in remote areas, access to essential goods and services.

Overall, President Jokowi’s government aims to construct at least 2,650 kilometres of new roads, 15 new airports, 24 new seaports, and 3,258 kilometres of railroads. The construction of infrastructure supporting land, sea, and air transportation is critical for Indonesia, an archipelago consisting of some 17,000 islands.

The vast water and land territory these islands cover means that infrastructure blank spots still exist, hindering economic growth to trickle into remote areas. The government needs to fill these infrastructure gaps if it is to achieve its economic growth targets, pegged at 5.6 per cent in 2018.

This year, the government has put more than 70 infrastructure projects under its belt and has allocated roughly Rp387.3 trillion (US$29 billion) for their construction. This figure is Rp70.2 trillion (US$5.26 billion) higher compared with the 2016 budget.

For the full story and more exclusive photos, grab a copy of our July 2017 magazine.

Also read: Ignasius Jonan Talks Passion, Principle And Being The Ministry Of Energy And Mineral Resources

Tags: Indonesia Tatler, Cover Story, July 2017