(Yicai Global) April 17 -- China and Japan are going head to head in yet another battle for an Indonesian contract as the pair look to win bids for the largest environmental project in the history of the Southeast Asian nation, cleaning up the world’s dirtiest river.
The two nations are the only ones so far to have submitted formal proposals to clean the Citarum River on the island of Java, local news outlet the Jakarta Post reported, quoting Safri Burhanuddin, undersecretary for human resources at the Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister. The 300-kilometer waterway is the longest river in the Indonesian province of West Java and flows through the national capital Jakarta.
Large quantities of industrial wastewater and household waste have been discharged into the Citarum since the 1980s, and the World Bank labeled it the globe’s most polluted river as early as 10 years ago. Other international organizations have dubbed it with similar titles, leading to President Joko Widodo vowing to make its water drinkable by 2025.
Since Widodo took office in 2014, he has pushed forward the construction of new infrastructure with neighbors China and Japan scrambling to take on the projects. One of the key developments was Indonesia’s first high-speed rail line, a contract which it awarded China in September 2015.
Japan’s Parliamentary Vice-Minister of the Environment Arata Takebe agreed to help Indonesia clean up the Citarum when he met with Siti Nurbaya Bakar, the local Minister of Environment and Forestry, on January 19. At the end of March, the Japan-Indonesia Coordination Agency invited merchants operating around the river’s valley to attend an evening in provincial capital Bandung, where it briefed them on the locally-available technologies to handle the waste.
China made its move slightly later, sending three water experts from Shenzhen Fountain Corp. to a symposium in Jakarta this month. At the meeting, they presented their solution to the Citarum’s problems to senior officials with the Indonesian government.
Editor: Jamie Boynton