Jakarta. Dhanu Wibowo, 24, said traffic congestion on the road to the West Java city of Sukabumi, about 100 kilometers south of Jakarta, used to be unbearable.
But when he heard the news that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo inaugurated the 15.35-kilometer first section of the Bogor-Ciawi-Sukabumi Toll Road on Saturday, his spontaneous response was, "thank God!"
Dhanu has high hopes that the new Bocimi Toll Road would ease the notoriously bad traffic congestion on this route.
"I hope vehicles won't pile up anymore [on the way to Sukabumi]," said the culture and history activist, who often travels to the city in the southern foothills of Mount Gede for training.
Edi Fajar, 26, an entrepreneur and influencer, is also optimistic that the new toll road would serve as an alternative route for people traveling to Sukabumi.
It can currently take anything from five to seven hours to drive from Jakarta and surrounding areas to Sukabumi district, which offers various tourist attractions, including mountain resorts, a geopark, whitewater rafting and beaches.
Section I between Ciawi and Cigombong, both in Bogor district, West Java, has cut the journey by car to 15 minutes, from about 90 minutes previously.
Fachri Audhia Hafiez, 24, who works in the media industry, said Sukabumi could become a popular holiday destination, now that traveling time between the city and Bogor has been reduced by about a sixth.
However, lots of work remains to be done. The 11,98-kilometer second section from Cigombong to Cibadak, 13.7-kilometer third section from Cibadak to West Sukabumi, and 13.05-kilometer fourth section from West Sukabumi to East Sukabumi, are currently still under construction.
Public Works Minister Basuki Hadimuljono said motorists would be allowed to use the newly opened section for free during the first week but that a tariff of Rp 1,000 (7 US cents) per kilometer would apply as of next weekend.
Stalled Nearly 21 YearsState-owned builder Waskita Karya took over construction of this section in 2015. The project is worth Rp 2.06 trillion.
The entire Bocimi Toll Road project has changed hands several times over the years since its launch in 1997. Bukaka Teknik Utama, Bakrie Group and MNC Group reportedly worked on the project, but due to land acquisition problems and a lack of funding, none made much progress until it was taken over by Waskita.