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Two smiling children turning on a tap with clean water spurting out

Improving sanitation for 100,000 people

The new sewerage system being built in Palembang shows how efficient and effective sanitation can be delivered in cities across Indonesia.

Decades of underinvestment in wastewater infrastructure have left Indonesia behind other countries in Asia. Just 1% of wastewater and 4% of waste from septic tanks is treated, and almost 25M people lack access to basic sanitation. Widespread contamination of groundwater and neighbourhood drains and poor access to clean water are causing major hygiene issues.

To address these challenges, the government is investing in municipal sewerage systems in Makassar, Jambi, Pekanbaru and Palembang initially, under its Metropolitan Sanitation Management Investment Project.

South Sumatra’s capital, Palembang, will become the first of the four to implement a city-wide upgrade of its sanitation infrastructure.

Communities and the local authorities have been extremely supportive of the Palembang City Sanitation Project (PCSP).

The first phase, costing US$74M, involves developing a 125km-long gravity sewer network, a transfer pumping station, an 8km-long transfer pressure main and a wastewater treatment plant. It will connect 12,000 properties, providing sanitation for around 60,000 inhabitants.

The next phase will involve an additional US$44M of investment from the Government of Indonesia, connecting an additional 9700 properties and bringing the total population served to 100,000 PCSP is financed by the governments of Indonesia and Australia through its development co-operation programme, as well as the provincial South Sumatra and Palembang city governments.

A new model of decentralisation

The project is showcasing improved delivery of large-scale municipal infrastructure in Indonesia. Although regional governments have been responsible for the operation, maintenance and expansion of infrastructure, central government has controlled funding. Co-ordination has been challenging, holding back the provision of effective sanitation.

Under the PCSP, funding is provided directly to the local government, empowering it to act and discharge its responsibilities as the asset owner. The result is improved efficiency and cost savings in project delivery, and better services to the people of Palembang.

We are construction management consultants on the PCSP. Our experience in delivering water projects across East Asia has helped our clients to address the intricacies of delivering largescale sanitation infrastructure in this densely developed city. In addition, the city has narrow roads, which limit the type of construction technology that can be employed. Our team advised on the best solutions to construction challenges and is bridging the gap in local technical knowledge by liaising with the city government and contractors.

Once operational, the system will ensure that more communities in Palembang will have access to a cleaner urban environment, significantly improving the city’s long-term economic development.

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