Plan to Build World’s Longest Bridge a Small Step Closer to Reality
Muhamad Al Azhari
The country’s plan to build the world’s longest suspension bridge to connect Java and Sumatra moved a tiny step closer to completion on Friday when a study was presented to the central government.
Completion of the “pre-feasibility” study for the planned 30-kilometer bridge, with an estimated price tag of Rp 100 trillion ($10.07 billion), came almost two years after it was commissioned. The study was conducted by PT Bangungraha Sejahtera Mulia, a subsidiary of Artha Graha Networks, a business owned by tycoon Tommy Winata.
“According to the study, the bridge is expected to boost Banten’s economic growth by 2 to 8 percent, and Lampung’s by 4 to 11 percent,” Banten Governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah said on Thursday.
The plan calls for a series of spans carrying a six-lane highway and a double-track railway traversing the Sunda strait and the islands of Prajurit, Sangiang and Ular. The longest span of the bridge is projected to be about 3 kilometers, more than 50 percent longer than the longest existing span, on the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in Japan.
The bridge could be operational by 2020, with construction to start in 2012, if the government finds money to pay for it.
Planning Minister Paskah Suzetta on Thursday said the bridge would greatly improve the flow of traffic between Java and Sumatra, where around 80 percent of the country’s population lives. He said 20 million passengers and 1.7 million tons of cargo crossed the Sunda Strait by ferry in 2006, and the figures were expected to double by 2020. “The bridge’s presence is vital,” he said.
However, the government would only be able to finance about a third of its cost, even though its completion is a priority, meaning support of the private sector would be vital, he said.