"After 24 years of daydreaming of having an MRT, finally Jakarta residents' dream will come true," Jokowi said. "In the name of God, the construction of the first MRT track has begun."

The MRT project is being funded through a Yen 125bn ($US 1.27bn) 40-year soft loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency with a 10-year grace period. The Indonesian government is responsible for repaying 49% of the loan leaving the city to repay the rest.

The last of six civil engineering contracts for the 15.2km line, which will link the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle with Lebak Bulus in southern Jakarta, was awarded in September. The line will have a 9.2km underground section with six stations while the remainder will be elevated with seven stations.

Construction is due to be completed by the end of 2017, enabling the metro to open in the first quarter of 2018. Services will initially operate at five-minute headways, and the line is expected to carry 173,000 passengers per day.