PAIR research supports Indonesian transportation ministry on South Sulawesi railway

Railway line running through rice fields, power lines above, and mountains in the background

The expectation is high that a new railway line connecting Makassar to Parepare will seamlessly link communities and boost economic growth in South Sulawesi.


This goal comes with many questions about to manage an ambitious project so that it truly serves the people and meets their needs.

This is where the Partnership for Australia-Indonesia Research (PAIR) program comes in, as a key contributor in a groundbreaking partnership with the Indonesian Transportation Policy Agency and PAIR’S parent organisation, the Australia-Indonesia Centre.

A ‘commitment charter’ on the operation of the Makassar-Parepare railway is to be established, as one of a number of initiatives involving the Indonesian Transportation Policy Agency and the PAIR program. This research initiative is led by the Australia-Indonesia Centre and supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Indonesian Ministry of Transportation and the South Sulawesi government.

The Transportation Policy Agency, part of the Indonesian Ministry of Transportation, collaborated with PAIR in a high-level meeting to discuss the South Sulawesi railway in Jakarta late last year.

“The PAIR team will cooperate with the policy agency to hold a coordination meeting with the national ministry and the South Sulawesi government to establish a ‘commitment charter’ on the operation of the new Makassar to Parepare railway line,” said PAIR program director Eugene Sebastian.

“Thanks to the tireless work of our PAIR transport researchers, we now have a deeper understanding of the potential and the challenges of the railway line.”

“Their findings have been praised by decision-makers at the highest level, including the Minister of Transportation himself. And the results are truly exciting. A commitment charter on the operation of the railway will ensure it serves the needs of local communities.”

The Jakarta meeting was held to discuss findings by PAIR transport researchers in the course of their work.

The Ministry has expressed “strong interest” in PAIR’s railway findings; a virtual workshop with ministerial officials was held in November 2022 to share recommendations on maximising the railway’s potential and to produce a policy brief for the minister.

In December, a focus group discussion was held between PAIR researchers and the Ministry of Transportation, convened by the Minister. Two other actions were agreed by the transport ministry and the AIC.

The Ministry and AIC will also conduct a series of virtual workshops to work towards combining the Transportation Policy Agency recommendations with PAIR’s findings into a document for the Minister for Transportation.

The AIC has submitted an application to the Australia Awards Fellowship with the support of the Ministry and South Sulawesi Government. If successful, the fellowships grant will allow the AIC to run a ‘translation activity’ that will bring relevant participants to design, develop and deliver an integrated transport plan for South Sulawesi.

Diagram showing a layout of an intermodal terminal.
A diagram showing the layout of an intermodal terminal. Image: PAIR

Plans for intermodal terminals

Meanwhile the South Sulawesi Transport Office has also recognised the importance of PAIR research, with plans to incorporate recommendations on intermodal terminals into its work plan.

Intermodal terminals are considered important to creating connectivity between ports, regional networks and central locations.

The realisation that PAIR research could help with implementing intermodal facilities followed a meeting in the capital city of Makassar between PAIR researchers, AIC executives and the South Sulawesi Transport Office, including the head of the South Sulawesi transport department traffic division, Aruddini.

It is planned that regular meetings will be held before the intermodal recommendations are included in the provincial work plan.

Feature image: The South Sulawesi railway passes through ricefields south of Makassar. Image: David Sexton, AIC.

Picture of David Sexton

Digital Communications Coordinator,
The Australia-Indonesia Centre