Writer and Photographer: Iqbal Kusumadirezza
My name is Mulfa. I work as a foreman on the Indonesian-Chinese High-Speed Rail construction project. I worked as a labourer for a garment factory in Purwakarta before joining this project.
I’ve been working on this Indonesian-Chinese High-Speed Rail construction as a foreman for two weeks. I work every day from 8.00 am until 5.00 pm without a day off or holidays. We even still work on big holidays such as Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. My salary is around Rp 3,000,000 (USD 219 dollars) per month, and they pay it once every two weeks. Chinese employees in administration are responsible for giving us our salaries on pay day. They (Chinese employees) have been working and staying in Indonesia for almost 12 years and can speak Indonesian fluently.
I was also one of the local people (villagers) affected by the constructions of the Indonesian-Chinese High-Speed Rail. The developer from KCIC (Kereta Cepat Indonesia-China) bought my land in 2017. At the end of 2016, village employees gathered us (villagers) at the village hall. About 80 villagers came to this gathering. They gave us announcements and explained about the Indonesian-Chinese High-Speed Rail plan, about how this project will start immediately in 2017 and finish in 2021. They said Cikalong villagers must own their land certificates and bank accounts to withdraw land compensation money. At that time, village employees taught us (who did not have land certificates and bank accounts) step by step how to get it done. They taught us how to make land certificates, measure our land twice, and get it verified by the National Land Agency (BPN). They gave me around Rp 35,000,000 (USD 2,560 dollars) for my land compensation. I got a relatively fair price for my land, it’s about Rp 180,000 (USD 13.17 dollars) per square meter. I spent the money mostly buying electronic goods such as cell phone, refrigerator, TV, and motorcycle.
I used the remaining money for travelling expenses to visit my friends in Sumatera (Lampung, Palembang, Banda, Aceh). By the time I wanted to go home, I realized that I had spent all my money. I had to ask and collect money from my friends so I could go home. Maybe this happened because the money was not the result of my hard work, so I spent it quickly and without hesitation. I did not even think to buy land for long-term investment. It only took a month for me to spend all the compensation money. When there was no money left, I decided to apply for a job on this high-speed rail project, and, luckily, they accepted me. They gave me work as a foreman on this high-speed rail project.
 1 IDR (Indonesia Rupiah) = 0.00007 USD，Feb 12, 2020