Jakarta has a reputation as an impenetrable place. Viewed from atop one of the many business hotels in the center of the city, the Indonesian capital is a sea of gray stretching into the haze. No one knows for sure how big metropolitan Jakarta actually is—maybe 10 million people or more in a region almost the size of Kuwait. What’s clear, though, is that while this city is rich relative to the rest of the country , its city managers were miserly when it came to building the ribbons of roads and rail needed to bind its residents together.

Tunnel Boring Machine, Muskabumi, is one of four bruisers digging deep below Jakarta for the country's first MRT.

With their impressive names and heft to match it’s fitting that a lot is riding on four tunnel boring machines currently chewing their way beneath Jakarta’s all but gridlocked thoroughfares to carve out the capital’s first mass rapid transit system.