Jakarta Takes Lead in Massive Sunda Strait Bridge Project
In an effort to attract more foreign investors to the massive Sunda Strait Bridge project, which seeks to build a roadway between Java and Sumatra, the central government will pay for a preliminary feasibility study, an official said on Tuesday.
The study was supposed to be handled by the Graha Banten Lampung Sejahtera consortium, which includes the Lampung and Banten provincial governments as well as a subsidiary of Tomy Winata’s Artha Graha conglomerate. Carrying out the study would have earned the consortium the right to bid 10 percent higher than the lowest bid for the project.
Two years ago, the consortium produced a pre-feasibility study, which is believed to have cost up to $60 million. The consortium’s failure to act on the actual feasibility study, however, finally prompted the government to step in.
“The initiator has practically done nothing,” said Bambang Brodjonegoro, head of the fiscal policy office at the Finance Ministry. “Their pre-feasibility study will be valued nonetheless.”
The 30-kilometer bridge would be Indonesia’s longest. Eighty percent of the country’s 240 million people live in Java and Sumatra. Construction could start as soon as 2014 and take 10 years to complete.
Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo said last month that the government wanted to assume responsibility for the feasibility study because it would have to bear the costs if the results were not as expected.
Bambang said the decision to assume responsibility for the feasibility study had been agreed to by every minister in the president’s cabinet, including the coordinating minister for the economy, Hatta Rajasa, who chairs the project steering committee, and Public Works Minister Djoko Kirman, whose office will take charge of the feasibility study.
“We prefer that from the start we can ensure that all parties with competency, sufficient funding and a good reputation can join the bidding [for the project],” Bambang said.
Naoyoshi Sato, Japan’s deputy minister for land, infrastructure, transportation and tourism, said last week that the Japanese government might be interested in getting involved in the construction project. Japan also pledged the assistance of its sea-bridge experts to support the feasibility study.
The Public Works Ministry said the study would cover construction and financing as well as development plans for areas surrounding the bridge.