Jakarta. Meikarta, Lippo Group’s $21 billion industrial city development on the outskirts of Jakarta, has had its share of controversies since the day it was launched, with rumors surrounding permits and environmental impacts of the project sparking reactions from both authorities and the public.
The Meikarta megacity project is located around 50 kilometers from downtown Jakarta on 500 hectares of land within the Lippo Cikarang industrial township in Bekasi, West Java.
According to the plan for the project, Meikarta is set to become an independent city of its own with one million residents.
Lippo Group has been preparing for the project since 2014 and it has now started building 250,000 units of residential property in the first phase of its development — estimated to take about three years to complete.
Lippo envisions Meikarta to become a new technology development hub in Southeast Asia, a leading research facility and a smart city with a globally-connected financial center.
Backed by Lippo’s diverse businesses, Meikarta will have entertainment and educational facilities including a library, an open theater, an art center, international schools, universities, an industrial research facility and an international exhibition center.
Meikarta will also have seven shopping destinations covering a total area of 1.5 million square meters, international-standard hospitals, financial centers and 10 five-star hotels.
As a tech hub, Meikarta will be an ideal place for startups — creating Indonesia’s own Silicon Valley.
Meanwhile, Meikarta’s 100-hectare green open-air development, called Central Park, has already been completed.
The park, apart from providing clean air and breathing space for local residents, is also expected to become an icon of Meikarta.
Lippo is working together with a group of local contractors to realize its ambitious vision, including Total Bangun Persada, Wijaya Karya and Pembangunan Perumahan (PP).
“Meikarta is the best home investment in Southeast Asia, considering the extensive range of infrastructures and facilities that we’ll build here,” Meikarta President Ketut Budi Widjaja said.
Meikarta offers discounted prices of under Rp 12.5 million per square meter for residential properties, lower than current land prices in the area, which hover around Rp 18 million to Rp 20 million per square meter.
It also offers mortgages of up to 25 years with a down payment of 10 percent, trying to attract first-time home buyers and investors alike.
James Riady, the chief executive of Lippo Group, said Meikarta will help the Indonesian government tackle the country’s housing backlog of 13.5 million units.
He also said the project will create jobs for six to eight million people.
Meikarta is trying to woo prospective buyers with its strategic location and accessibility, being sandwiched between Jakarta and 10 industrial areas — and also located next to the toll road connecting Jakarta and Bandung, the capital of West Java.
Several major infrastructure developments are already ongoing around Meikarta, including Kertajati International Airport, Patimban Seaport, the Jakarta-Bandung express train, a light rail transport (LRT) connecting Cawang in East Jakarta to Cikarang, a monorail and a new Jakarta-Cikampek elevated toll road.
State-Owned Enterprises Ministry Secretary Imam Putro, however, recently announced on Antaranews.com that the LRT will not stop at Meikarta.
The nearest LRT station from the project will be in East Bekasi, around 20 kilometers away from Meikarta.
Permit Issues Resolved
Meikarta’s massive branding campaign has put the project on the tip of everyone’s tongue. But along with the fame come rumors and questions centered around its permits, or lack of them.
According to the Land and Spatial Planning Ministry, Meikarta has applied for a land use permit — locally known as IPPT — for a total area of 164 hectares but has only acquired a permit for 84.6 hectares so far.
The ministry also said Meikarta has yet to secure a building license (IMB) or completed an environmental impact analysis (Amdal) on the area.
Ahmad Saragih of Indonesia’s Ombudsman Office, said there are a host of potential problems that may beset Meikarta.
This includes whether or not the new township can sustain millions of people living in an area that not long ago was just a village with 143,030 residents — according to a South Cikarang census done in 2010 — and also problems with Meikarta’s mortgage scheme.
“Lippo has been saying there might be up to one million people living in Meikarta. This will have a big impact on the surrounding regions,” Ahmad said.
“What will the traffic be like? Where will they get their water? Are they going to get water from Jatiluhur [dam]? We don’t know, right?” he added.
Ahmad also pointed out that according to Bank Indonesia’s regulation, a 10 percent down payment on residential properties — such as the one Meikarta offers for apartments — can only be made available to first-time home buyers, not investors.
Meikarta President Ketut Budi Widjaja said the project is making good progress on completing all of the above homework.
The company already complies to the government’s permit regulations, Ketut said, adding that Lippo already has 25 years of experience in the property business and will put all of that to good use in Meikarta.
“[Securing] permits are not a new thing for us. We’ve been here for 25 years,” he said.
Lippo’s communication director Danang Kemayanjati said after a meeting with the Ombudsman that Meikarta has had the “all clear” and that all the permits will be secured “in phases.”
Eddy Triyanto, the person in charge of securing Lippo Cikarang’s permits, said Meikarta is part of the Lippo Cikarang project that was started in 1987.
For Lippo Cikarang, the company received a West Java Governor decree in 1994 allowing it to build residential properties on 3,400 hectares of land.
So far, 3,250 hectares have already been acquired.
“We’ve cleared the land for Meikarta [with the government]. There is no problem,” Eddy said.
Eddy also said Meikarta has already secured its IPPT and that in May 2017, Lippo had already set the ball rolling for the project’s environmental impact analysis.
However, the government of West Java has temporarily suspended the progress on the Amdal as it waits for a recommendation from the central government.
Visiting the project in late October, Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan threw the government’s support behind the Meikarta project.
He said any problems with Meikarta’s permits will soon be resolved since the project is crucial to realize the government’s vision of opening up a massive urban area between Jakarta and Bandung within the next three decades.
Meikarta had already held a topping off ceremony for the first two towers at the township project on Sunday (29/10). According to Ketut, as many as 50 towers will be ready by December 2018.
Reporting by Sarah Yuniarni, Imam Mudzakir, Mikael Niman