Indonesia’s first subway opens in its gridlocked capital

Indonesia's first subway opens in its gridlocked capital
Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, center, stands on a stage with the background of a Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit train during the inauguration ceremony of the subway line in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sunday, March 24, 2019. The 16-kilometer (10-mile) line system running south from Jakarta's downtown is the first phase of a development that if fully realized will plant a cross-shaped network of stations on the teeming city of 30 million people. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara, Pool)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has opened a long-awaited subway in the country’s capital aimed at staving off crippling traffic gridlock with comfortable transport facilities.

Jakarta’s first subway is the latest of many infrastructure improvements nationwide that it is hoped will help the giant but laggard nation catch up with its neighbors.

Widodo inaugurated the first phase of 16-kilometer (10-mile) subway line running south from Jakarta’s downtown on Sunday, while also presiding over a groundbreaking ceremony for an 8-kilometer (5-mile) line heading northward that is planned to be completed by 2024.

The .6 billion project is funded through a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Congestion has relentlessly worsened in the past decade as car ownership rose, squeezing more and more vehicles onto Jakarta’s unchanging road network.