China-invested industrial park brings tangible benefits

By Guan Kejiang, Shen Xiaoxiao, Zhang Jie, People’s Daily

Thanks to the establishment of a China-Indonesia economic and trade cooperation zone, Bahodopi village in Morowali Regency, Central Sulawesi province of Indonesia, has turned from a small fishing village with just a few thousand residents into a prosperous town with a population of more than 200,000, where row upon row of fruit, garment, and grocery shops line the main street bustling with motorcycles and pedestrians.

The Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park (IMIP) project was signed under the witness of Chinese President Xi Jinping and then Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono when Xi was paying a state visit to Indonesia in October 2013.

The construction of the industrial park has brought the economic development of Morowali Regency onto a fast track. 

Former speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives Marzuki Alie noted that the IMIP vividly demonstrates the high-quality co-construction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) between Indonesia and China, bringing tangible benefits to the local people.

Machines are always grumbling in the industrial park, where heavy-duty trucks, tower cranes, and barges work in close cooperation in a well-coordinated manner.

It is learned that some 40 enterprises have opened in the industrial park, mainly in the nickel-iron, stainless steel, and new energy vehicle battery material industries. The industrial park has grown into a substantial stainless steel production base globally, with a total agreed investment of over $15 billion.

“I’ve been working here for almost ten years. Every day the industrial park looks different,” said Miss Marwati, an Indonesian employee with the comprehensive management department of the IMIP.

Marwati quit her job in Jarkata in 2013 after she learned that a China-invested industrial park would be built in her hometown. Today, she is already a vital employee of the comprehensive management department, which she attributes to the broad platform offered by the IMIP and the assistance from her Chinese colleagues.

“I’ll do a good job and work with my colleagues to develop the industrial park. I believe our life will only get better,” she said.

Taslim, the head of Morowali Regency, noted that the regency owns rich resources of nickel mines, and the IMIP has turned these mines into projects that bring tangible benefits to the people.

According to him, the fiscal revenue of the regency has doubled since 2018 to reach 384 billion rupiah ($25.6 million).

“With this money, we are allowed to expand our investment in education and public services to improve the living standard of the people,” Taslim said.

While pursuing its development, the IMIP is actively fulfilling its social responsibility. It has built 42 kilometers of medium-voltage power transmission lines that enable 24-hour power supply for surrounding villages, ending the old days when sunset equaled complete darkness in local communities. The industrial park helped local communities build kindergartens, middle schools, soccer pitches, and vocational schools. Besides, it has also launched tree planting and coral reef transplanting and conservation activities, planting over 11 hectares of mangrove trees and restoring more than 270 hectares of vegetation in mines.

Today, Morowali Regency is one of Indonesia’s most dynamic places for attracting investment and creating jobs. 

The Sari Rasa Restaurant near the IMIP is a vivid example. It was still a small restaurant in 2018. Still, today it has turned into a gigantic complex comprising a ship-shaped giant log cabin whose facade is decorated with colorful wood carvings, a two-story B&B hotel, a much bigger restaurant, and a starred hotel under construction.

Marta, the restaurant owner, told People’s Daily that Chinese enterprises had boosted the local economy, which also gave a leg up to her business.

“My dreams years ago are all realized,” she said.

She’s planning to cooperate with other businesses to jointly improve the public environment, so residents in the community would live better. 

“This is my new dream,” Marta explained.

Everyone has a dream. As the BRI grows from a seed of dreams into a luxuriant tree and becomes a path of opportunities and shared prosperity, more and more people from participating countries will see their dreams come true.

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