President Joko Widodo and Economic Affairs Minister Sofyan Jalil, left, look at a scale model of the Tanjung Lesung special economic zone in Tanjung Jaya, Pandeglang, Banten, on Monday. Antara Photo/Asep Fathulrahman

Jokowi Banks on $385m Road to Banten’s Paradise

FEBRUARY 23, 2015

Jakarta. President Joko Widodo has planned a $385 million expansion of a toll road in Banten, to be completed in 2018, as the government seeks to develop a special economic zone in Tanjung Lesung in the province’s district of Pandeglang.

“I expect the toll road to be completed within three years. I have asked for the toll road construction to start immediately,” Joko said in a statement distributed by the Coordinating Economics Affairs Ministry  on Monday.

The toll road extends 80 kilometers from Serang, the capital of Banten, to Panimbang, the gateway to Tanjung Lesung, a 1,500 hectare area declared a special economic zone for tourism under a 2012 presidential decree.

Joko gave a keynote speech on Monday at a ceremony marking the beginning of operations at the Tanjung Lesung special economic zone.

“This kind of project must be completed quickly because the world is rapidly changing. If we don’t take [the opportunity], other countries will take it,” the president said in the statement.

Located roughly 180 kilometers — or around four hours’ drive without traffic — from Jakarta, there is still poor road access to Tanjung Lesung, an area known for its scenic beaches.

Beside the toll road, the government also plans to build the Panimbang airport, according to the website of the Pandeglang Regional Planning Board.

Around 250,000 tourists visit Tanjung Lesung every year, thanks to its unspoiled and serene peninsula offering some of the most beautiful beaches on Java Island.

The president called on all stakeholders, including the central government, regional government and investors to take responsibility for the development.

The economic zone is planned to have dozens of hotels offering thousands of rooms.

Tanjung Lesung is developed and will be operated by Banten West Java Tourism Development, a subsidiary of Kawasan Industri Jababeka, an industrial park developer.

“I want the construction of the Serang-Panimbang toll road to be followed up with development within the Tanjung Lesung special economic zone. There will be many hotels, halls for MICE [meeting, incentives, conferences and exhibitions], and a marina for yachts. I ask for all of those to be completed at the same time as the toll road,” Joko said.

Setiawan Mardjuki, president director of Banten West Java Tourism Development, said in accordance with a 2012 governmental decree, the Tanjung Lesung special economic zone must start operating by the end of this month.

“The special zone is meant to boost investment, especially in the tourism sector. So on the national level, tourism sector can contribute 12 percent to national investment from the current 6 percent,” he said.

Joko said the government would give fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to attract more investors to Tanjung Lesung.

Globe Asia