JAKARTA. Publicly listed construction company PT Waskita Karya (WSKT) has been named as one of the main contractors in the renovation and expansion of the Masjidil Haram grand mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, a company executive has said.
Waskita president director M. Choliq said in Jakarta on Wednesday that the company would team up with the Saudi Binladin Group (SBG), one of the largest construction companies in Saudi Arabia, to carry out the renovation project which would take between five and 10 years.
“The Masjidil Haram is going to be a long-term project for us. We will renovate the mosque gradually before and after the Haj season because the expansion project must not disturb the pilgrims,” Choliq said on the sidelines of a hearing with the House of Representatives Commission V overseeing infrastructure and transportation. This year, the haj season will fall in October.
He said that Waskita, which is controlled by the Indonesian government, would start the renovation project next month.
Choliq declined to reveal the value of the renovation contract, but he said it was a substantial project and important in helping to strengthen Waskita’s position as a global player.
The Masjidil Haram grand mosque surrounds one of Islam’s holiest sites, the Kaaba.
After the Masjidil Haram project, he said that the company planned to bid for more infrastructure projects in several Asian countries.
Waskita would be working on projects worth Rp 23.5 trillion (US$2.24 billion) throughout this year, up by almost Rp 9 trillion from last year, he said.
Apart from Waskita, other state-run construction companies PT Wijaya Karya and PT Pengembang Perumahan are also planning to spread their wings to foreign markets.
Wijaya Karya corporate secretary Natal Argawan said that the firm was vying for new projects in Latin America and Malaysia in the coming years.
“For the Latin American market, we have recently established a team that will study the markets in several countries. We are going to look at the prospects, the risks and the political situation this year before deciding which countries we are going to enter and what projects we will be working on,” Natal said, adding that the firm had yet to set a deadline on when they should expand into Latin America.
The company would not be in a rush to expand their businesses because political and economic conditions could change at any time.
However, Wijaya Karya had recently participated in the bidding process in some projects in Malaysia, he said. “We are going to announce more projects in foreign countries soon,” he said.
The company has just set up a representative office in Myanmar in order to explore business opportunities in the newly emerging economy.
This year alone, the company would work on projects worth Rp 20.7 trillion, an increase of some 26 percent from last year.
Moreover, Pengembang Perumahan president director Bambang Triwibowo said that the company was currently eyeing infrastructure projects in Timor Leste. “This is going to be one of our biggest projects in Timor Leste and we plan to start it this year,” Bambang said, declining to provide details on the project saying that it might affect their plans.
State-owned enterprises (SOEs) are starting to move on foreign markets this year in order to widen Indonesia’s business exposure and presence in the international arena.
At the end of March, a delegation of as many as 15 firms including oil and gas firm PT Pertamina, mining firm PT Antam, fertilizer producer PT Pupuk Indonesia, electricity firm PT PLN, telecommunications company PT Telkom and aircraft maintenance company PT GMF Aero Asia explored business opportunities in Myanmar led by Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa.
The delegation was also viewed as a form of solidarity because Myanmar, a fellow ASEAN member, has been improving its democratic and human rights records.
As Southeast Asia’s largest economy, Indonesia has the least presence in Myanmar compared to other ASEAN countries such as Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.
Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings, for example, is believed to have invested about $3 billion in Myanmar as of today.
SOE Minister Dahlan Iskan has said that Indonesia would reap many benefits from Myanmar because the country needed oil, gas, and infrastructure.
(Nurfika Osman/The Jakarta Post)