The Jakarta E-Prix has been forced to change it’s location after the original proposed circuit in the historic Monas complex in Merdeka square was rejected by the State Secretariat of Jakarta.
“The steering committee does not approve the plan for using Monas,” State Secretariat secretary Setya Utama informed the press on Wednesday, according to local news outlet kompas.com.
He went on to cite the cultural heritage of Monas as a key reason why the proposal has been rejected, with fears that laying down a temporary track surface will cause permanent damage to the site.
“(The race) needs a significant modification (of the site), including to put in a certain type of asphalt.” he added.
With the Jakarta E-Prix scheduled for June 6th, there is now a race against time for Formula E and local authorities to organise an alternative circuit location in Jakarta, as Formula E have signed a five year deal with the city.
A Formula E spokesperson gave the following statement to the-race.com, explaining how they intend to deal with the situation:
“Following feedback from the Secretary of State and Medan Merdeka Area Development Steering Committee, Formula E is working in close collaboration with city officials to move the race from Monas and assess other viable venues already studied during the original circuit selection process.
“With many other existing plans in the pipeline and city-commissioned regeneration projects in and around the Monas area, Formula E and the Jakarta Organising Committee are cooperating in accordance with the request.
“Formula E and the Jakarta Organising Committee will continue with preparations for the event based on the change in circumstances and promote the E-Prix and the importance of embracing clean energy and electric vehicles as a solution to addressing inner-city air pollution.”
The rejection of Monas plays into the hands of the race’s opponents, such as the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) faction of Jakarta’s legislative council.
“We have refused the event since the beginning because it has no clear benefit,” said the PSI’s Justin Adrian in a written statement, “So I suggest it be canceled, then the budget can be used to a more urgent matter, anticipating flood.”
A Change.org petition created by local Jakartan resident Irawan Prasetyo, which accuses city governor Anies Basweden of cutting the Jakarta’s flood management budget to fund the race, and calls for it’s cancellation, has reached over 13,000 signatures since it was setup after flash floods displaced 60,000 people, and killed at least 66.
Basweden subsequently denied the accusations of incompetence directed at him. “That’s just not true.” he replied during a visit to a Food Shelter last month, “It’s a fabrication. I don’t think I need to (respond). I don’t want to make any comment.”
When asked about the rejection of the Monas proposal, Basweden was confident that a replacement could be found, telling reporters: “(We) have enough time.”