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Javanese graduate: 'I'll continue to work for Chinese firms in future'

By HAN RONGHUA and ZHUANG QIANGE | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-07 08:56
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Chinese and Indonesian builders work at a train station on the Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Railway in July. ZHANG DAGANG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Galang Alif Swandaru, a graduate of Diponegoro University in Indonesia, never expected his life and livelihood would be linked to a Chinese enterprise and his country's first high-speed railway.

In 2018, Swandaru and his classmates in the university's civil engineering department were invited by PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia-China, a consortium involving Indonesia's state-owned companies and China's centrally administered State-owned enterprises, to visit a construction site for the Jakarta-Bandung HSR. After seeing the work and listening to some speeches, his interest in the project was piqued.

A few years earlier, after the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed in late 2013, Indonesian President Joko Widodo had put forward the country's Global Maritime Fulcrum. The synergy between the BRI and GMF made the idea of building the Jakarta-Bandung HSR, Indonesia's and Southeast Asia's first HSR project, a reality. The $8-billion, 142.3-kilometer line represents the first overseas foray of Chinese HSR technologies. Its foundation was laid on Jan 21, 2016, with full construction starting in June 2018.

After his graduation in August 2019, Swandaru joined the project management department of China Railway No 4 Engineering Group Co Ltd, engaging in technical work on the HSR.

From the start of the project, CREC4 made a concerted effort to increase training for Indonesian employees and assist the country in building its own HSR construction staff, according to Han Xinliang, publicity chief of CREC4 First Engineering Co Ltd. A practical principle of "a Chinese tutor + an Indonesian apprentice" was adopted for the training, along with the concept of "mutual consultation, construction and sharing".

The Chinese side assigned Mi Zhiyin, a chief engineer, to serve as Swandaru's technical instructor, while managerial staffer Zhao Wei volunteered to teach him Mandarin. With the help and guidance of his Chinese mentors, the young Indonesian quickly mastered the surveying and field location work.

In September 2020, construction at Tegalluar Station was in full swing, and nearly 100 Indonesian workers were hired. With communication between Chinese and Indonesian builders a major obstacle, Swandaru used his training and skill to serve as a go-between in helping them settle into their work. Each month, the CREC4 project management department held a training class to brief the Indonesian employees on technical skills, and Swandaru volunteered to serve as a teacher. On seeing an electric multiple unit train depart the Tegalluar Station in 2022, he was so moved that tears came to his eyes as he took photos to send to his family.

"The HSR hired many Indonesian workers, offering them employment and helping train them into capable technicians just like me. I am truly grateful to Chinese companies and I'll continue to work for Chinese firms in future," Swandaru said.

Randi Ramdhani, who started working at the CREC4 No 4 beam fabrication yard in Bandung in October 2020, is another beneficiary of CREC4's training program.

"I thank the Chinese master for his hands-on teaching, and later, I was assigned a job for taking charge of the handover of cushion stones with the WIKA branch on the Indonesian side," Ramdhani said.

While he made progress in his technical skills, Ramdhani's Chinese language proficiency also improved, and his monthly salary increased by nearly 1,000 yuan ($140). "In the future, I will visit China, which I have been longing for," he said.

The synergy between the BRI and GMF since 2018 has implemented many strategic projects needed by Indonesia, said Djauhari Oratmangun, the country's ambassador to China. "Chinese investments continue to grow and fulfill Indonesia's priority projects of infrastructure and upstream industries," he added.

According to Song Heng, deputy publicity chief of CREC4, besides helping cultivate local talent, CREC4 staffers have volunteered to dig wells and repair roads for local villagers, and donated cash to help children with their education.

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