Chinese Investment In Indonesia’s Mount Rinjani Cable Car Project – OpEd


About the Investment

In the past few months, China has continuously invested in several sectors in Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia. Based on research that several experts have done, they say that China has been active in investing lately because it is in line with the big program they are currently carrying out, the Belt and Road Initiative. One of China’s well-known investments in Indonesia is the Jakarta-Bandung fast train; however, Indonesia’s tourism sector has also become a concern for China, and one of the attentions that China has given is an investment in the Mount Rinjani cable car line.

This cable car project started in December 2022 and began with the groundbreaking on December 18, 2022, the day after the Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB) anniversary. The groundbreaking process was also carried out with investors from China, who were planned as managers and investors. The project, which is projected to be completed in 2025, will at least require a budget of Rp. 2.2 billion, which is very different from the initial projection, which was only projected to require a budget of Rp. 600 billion. According to some reports, the increase in the budget is because the project will later be equipped with several facilities, for example, resorts and also regional arrangements.

Zulkieflimansyah (the Governor of West Nusa Tenggara (NTB)) explained that the existence of the cable car project in Lombok will make Lombok one of the centers of world tourism destinations; he also explained that this track will be built approximately 10 kilometers long and will be connected with various tourism facilities.

Influence on the Economy 

This grandiose project has pros and cons for the community. Lots of people are afraid that this project will make them lose their jobs due to reduced interest in climbing Mount Rinjani. Besides that, the community is also afraid that in the future, many tourists will prefer to use cable cars rather than hire porters and guides. But contrary to the views of the people, the governor of NTB himself said the opposite. He explained that this development would provide fresh air to the tourism sector in the NTB. Besides, this project was also projected to open new jobs for the people of NTB. Zulkieflimansyah also said that later the porters would be improved by training new skills to adapt to the new environment, and Zulkieflimansyah also assured that there would still be a lot of interest in climbing Mount Rinjani.

According to Zulkieflimansyah, the cable car will be used as an alternative for tourists who want to enjoy the beauty of the hills on Mount Rinjani. He explained that protests from some residents were normal because this was something new. The cable car facility is expected to cost around IDR 500,000, with the hope that this large sum of money will boost and provide income for both the NTB regional government and the central government.

Influence on the Environment

Meanwhile, if we look at this project from an environmental perspective, Zulkieflimansyah was reluctant to talk about an environmental impact analysis (AMDAL) related to the construction of this project, but he promised that later this grand project would not sacrifice the protected forest area at the foot of Mount Rinjani. Meanwhile, according to Mohammad Rum, the head of the Penanaman modal & pelayanan terpadu satu pintu (DPMPTSP), this project would not damage the environment because it was built outside the path of Mount Rinjani National Park (MRNP), precisely below or outside of MRNP.

Even so, in July, a non-governmental organization (NGO) called Wahana lingkungan hidup (WALHI) NTB requested that the provincial government conduct a study on the disastrous impact of this project. WALHI also wanted to see this project not only from a business and economic perspective but also from an environmental perspective. Amri Nuryadin, who is the Director of WALHI NTB, also emphasized that the permit process and review of the feasibility study (FS) and detailed engineering design (DED) must be seen more comprehensively. He also explained that because this is a big project, the impact will also be large. As a result, don’t let the residents suffer a disaster solely on economic grounds. He also explained that this project should not end the same as the Lantan 459 Motor Cross Circuit project, which even caused the local people to experience a flood disaster because of it.

The Next Step

Seeing the reaction of local people who are worried about losing their jobs, as well as resistance from residents, the regional government and central government should be more able to convince them. Even if it is necessary, the government has provided guarantees to the community in the form of funds, skills training, the certainty of job opportunities, and other things. Both the local government and the central government must know that investment should be an investment that provides benefits for the state, the region, and the community. Society is an important point because, with this investment, the first to feel its influence is the community.

With China’s recent condition of intensively investing as a form of implementing the Belt and Road Initiative program, Indonesia should not accept all investments from China that come. The government should also pay more attention to which investments are profitable for the country and which investments can be arguably unprofitable. Apart from that, Indonesia must also be aware that not only does Indonesia need investment from China, but on the other hand, China also needs Indonesia as a supporting factor for the belt and road initiative program they are working on. Therefore, if this is implemented, the future condition of negotiations and the strength of Indonesia cannot be underestimated by China.

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