Awaited Batam toll road to finish soon

The Jakarta Post, Batam | Business | Sat, June 14 2014

The Batam Free Trade Zone Authority (BPK FTZ) is optimistic that the planned toll road that will connect Batam’s Hang Nadim International Airport to the region’s industrial areas and ports will be completed soon, as it has been prioritized in the government’s Master Plan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Development (MP3EI).

BPK FTZ spokesman Dwi Djoko Wiwoho said that the toll road connecting the airport to industrial sites such as Muka Kuning and the Batu Ampar cargo port was seriously needed due to increasing traffic on public roads that was beginning to disrupt industrial activity.

“The construction of this road has become a priority MP3EI project, and is crucial for the development of toll roads in Sumatra,” Djoko said when contacted on Thursday.

According to Djoko, the project was laid out in 2010, and was initially scheduled for completion in 2016. However, due to various factors, the target began shifting.

“It was initially planned for tender in 2012, but due to its inclusion in the MP3EI, we had to wait for a presidential regulation first. We are confident that the regulation will be issued before the president ends his term [in October],” he added.

The project is expected to cost Rp 1.6 trillion (US$135 million).

The BPK FTZ had offered the project’s commencement to 24 foreign ambassadors during a diplomatic visit to the Riau Islands in September 2012, symbolizing the authority’s seriousness in offering the project’s commencement to foreign investors.

Also, the authorities have given assurances that the toll road’s construction would not be affected by land acquisition problems that usually plague such projects in the regions, since all of Batam’s land was managed by the BPK FTZ.

Previously, the Riau Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry deputy head Amat Santoso said that long-term projects that prevent traffic problems must be prioritized by the government.

Due to Batam’s worsening traffic conditions, the industrial sector faces delays and may risk disrupting import and export activity in the region.

“We accept any projects that aim to ease our transportation problems with open arms. The government cannot wait until the traffic problems in Batam become worse before actually constructing [the toll road]. It needs to be built while the problems are still not as severe as they could be,” Amat said.

According to Amat, high population growth and rising vehicle ownership threatened to disrupt the Batam traffic system.

The problems started to become of greater concern due to the growth in population and a more open traffic system.

Previously, Batam’s traffic system operated on a “one in one out” basis, meaning that vehicles that come into Batam have to hold certificates that guarantee the destruction of the vehicle. After regional autonomy was imposed, the system was abandoned.

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