President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo gives a speech at the inauguration of the Bakauheni-Terbanggi Besar section of the Trans-Sumatra toll road in Lampung on Friday morning (08/03).

Planning to Cruise Through Sumatra? Toll Road Will Connect the Entire Island by 2024

MARCH 08, 2019

Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo officially announced the opening of the Bakauheni-Terbanggi Besar section 
in Lampung on Friday morning (08/03).

Spanning 140 kilometers, Jokowi said the Bakauheni-Terbanggi is the longest toll road section he has ever inaugurated.

The next section under construction is Terbanggi Besar-Palembang, which will connect Lampung with the South Sumatra capital. It is expected to be completed in June this year, coinciding with the hectic mudik, when Muslims return to their hometown to celebrate Idul Fitri.

The Trans-Sumatra connects Aceh, the northern tip of the island, with Lampung in southernmost Sumatra. It has 24 sections and a total length of 2,765 kilometers that will cost Rp 476 trillion ($33.2 billion) to build.

President director of state-owned builder Hutama Karya Bintang Perbowo said the 140 kilometer-long toll road is already open for public, but is still free of charge.

"The Public Works and Housing Ministry will release the official toll fares after the inauguration," he said.

Hutama Karya was assigned by a presidential regulation to build the entire Trans-Sumatra toll road and has secured a 30-year concession rights.

The company's first priority is to complete a 684-kilometer long stretch of the toll road by the end of 2019. The entire toll road is set for completion by 2024.

The Trans-Sumatra is expected to increase connectivity and speed up distribution of goods from industrial estates, such as Karawang and Bekasi in West Java, to different regions in Sumatra.

Maximizing Economic Impact

Although the government is optimistic about the toll road's prospects, its construction has drawn criticisms from the public.

Some say movement of goods and people in Sumatra is less active compared to what happens in restless and densely populated Java, so building the Trans-Sumatra is a waste of money and resources. There will be no return on investment from a dormant economy.

State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno said that to maximize the economic impact of infrastructure development, state-owned enterprises must try to capitalize on the Trans-Sumatra and Trans-Java toll roads as much as possible.

"State-owned enterprises should improve their performance [thanks to these toll roads]. Their role as agents of development and value creation must continue," Rini said.

Dean of Economics and Business at the University of Indonesia Ari Kuncoro also gave his thoughts on the role state-owned enterprises can play in developing the economy.

Ari said toll roads can provide a new market for small and medium enterprises in rural areas and that this, in turn, could turn these areas into an integral part of the national economy.

According to him, state-owned enterprises should build industrial estates near the toll roads to boost local economic growth.

Elephant Crossings

The 131 kilometer-long route from Pekanbaru to Dumai, also part of the Trans-Sumatra, will be equipped with five tunnels specifically built for elephants to cross. The crossings are constructed to conserve the elephants' habitat.

Toll Road Regulation Agency (BPJT) head Danang Parikesit said in a statement on Thursday that section 4 and 5 of the Pekanbaru-Dumai toll road pass through an elephant habitat in Balai Raja, Riau, which is estimated to have about 25 elephants.

"To preserve Sumatra's biodiversity, five tunnels will be built as elephant crossings so that we can minimize damage to the elephants’ habitat," Danang said.

Hutama Karya has worked together with Riau province's Natural Resources Conservation office (BBKSDA) as well as a number of wildlife conservation NGOs to determine the location and design of the tunnels.

According to Danang, the Pekanbaru-Dumai section is expected to improvve access between Pekanbaru, the capital of Riau, and Dumai, a port city for oil and agribusiness industries.

He said the section will cut travel time between the two cities from five hours to just two hours.

So far, construction progress on the route has reached 37 percent. It has six sections with a total investment of Rp 16.2 trillion.