SBY Says Sunda Strait Bridge Construction Must Proceed
Berlin. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono reaffirmed on Wednesday that Indonesia will go ahead with the massive Sunda Strait bridge construction project, and promised to settle differences within his own cabinet that have stalled the plan.
“There is a little bit of controversy, but we must build the JSS [Sunda Strait Bridge] because it is very strategic for the long term,” Yudhoyono said during an Indonesian diaspora forum in Berlin.
He added that the planned 30-km bridge was among the major infrastructure projects Indonesia wanted to realize under its Master Plan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesia’s Economic Development (MP3EI) program.
The bridge is expected to boost the connectivity and logistics transportation between Indonesia’s two most densely populated islands, Java and Sumatra.
In 2011, the president issued a regulation on the Development of the Sunda Strait Infrastructure Strategic Zone to support the construction of the bridge and the development of the surrounding areas in Banten and Lampung.
Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo has insisted that the regulation must be revised, citing the need to separate the bridge’s construction and the surrounding area’s development, as well as for related feasibility studies to be funded by the state budget.
Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa, however, has maintained that no revision is necessary.
On Tuesday, Yudhoyono insinuated that he agreed with Hatta, saying that the expansion of the neighboring areas should create faster returns on the construction costs, which may reach Rp 225 trillion ($23 billion).
“It will be difficult to get a return on the investment if we only build the bridge. So we’ll have to develop areas around the bridge in order to give this [project] commercial value,” the president said.
He added that Malaysia proposed building a bridge that connects Dumai, in the Indonesian province of Riau, with the Malaysian peninsula four years ago, but the Indonesian government rejected it because it wanted to focus on the Sunda Strait project.
“And I know if the Sumatra-Malaysia bridge were built, Sumatra’s resources would all go to Asia,” Yudhoyono said.
Many believe Yudhoyono wants to cement part of his 10-year legacy with the Sunda bridge project, as he will end his second term next year.
Investor Daily, JG