Passing through the mountains in Indonesia's West Java province, a silver "dragon" appears in front of us. This, is the Cimanuk River, cradle and "mother river" of West Java people.
The river brings life and water to local people, as well as flood during monsoon seasons and drought during dry seasons. For more than half a century, the Indonesian government and people have been making plans to build a dam to tame the Cimanuk River, but all in vain due to fund and technical reasons.
Things were changed in 2007. In that year, China's Sinohydro Cooperation signed a contract with the Indonesian government on the construction of the Jatigede Dam, with 90 percent of the fund coming from a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China, and 10 percent appropriated by the Indonesian government.
After eight years of hard work, in August 2015, the Jatigede Dam was completed against all odds and started to function. The Jatigede hydropower station project was also initiated in the same year with an anticipated installed capacity of 110,000 kw and expected to be commissioned in 2019. Once starting to generate electricity, the power station will greatly relieve the electricity shortage situation in the West Java region.
With a height of 110 meters and length of 1,670 meters, the Jatigede Dam stretches across two mountains in Sumedang Regency, West Java, with a total storage capacity of 1.063 billion cubic meters and irrigation area of 90,000 hectares of farmland. Not only does it protect the region from being flooded by the Cimanuk River, the dam also serves as the heart of irrigation, power generation, fishing and sight-seeing.
"The smooth construction and function of the Jatigede Dam have energized the economic development of the region, improved the livelihoods of local people, thus earning high recognition and praise from Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Indonesia in 2013 as well as from the Indonesian government, experts and local people," Jatigede Dam Site Construction Manager Zhang Lin told Xinhua.
In Kudajaya village, just one km from the dam, Xinhua reporters met Asep Tatang Rukmana, a local employee of the dam project. The 32-year-old used to work at a bread factory in another regency, ever since he joined Sinohydro Cooperation in 2007 as a surveyor, his life took a leap.
"Only after two years working for Sinohydro, I bought a shop with my salary savings," said Asep, smiling. "Now I work as a senior surveyor of Sinohydro's Jatigede Dam project, and my wife works at the shop while taking care of our kids, the business is very good."
"My Chinese colleagues are very professional, very hardworking, and are always generous enough to share their expertise with me. I've learned so much from them."
"I really enjoy my life now," Asep said.
Beben Nariespendi, chief of Kudajaya village, said before the Jatigede Dam project, the region was like a marginalized primitive jungle. During the past 10 years, the village has become increasingly modernized, with trade activities getting active, roads emerging, tap water and electricity being supplied to villagers' households.
The construction of the dam has also created thousands of direct and indirect job opportunities for villagers, training them to become professional construction workers and increasing their income.
"Although the dam occupies some of our farmland, but from a longer perspective, the dam brings us water, electricity and tourists, and helps attract investment," said Beben. "According to government plans, we are going to have commercial, agricultural, industrial and tourism zones in the region. I can't wait to see them."
While inspecting the Jatigede Dam in March, 2016, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said that since its planning in the 1960s, the Jatigede Dam had finally been completed after so many years.
As Indonesia's second largest dam, the Jatigede Dam would irrigate 90,000 hectares of farmland, and also serve as a tourism destination and a fishing area. The hydropower station nearby would supply electricity to the local vast area, the president said.