Massive bridge to connect Java and Sumatra

Multa Fidrus, The Jakarta Post, Banten

Banten Governor Ratu Atut Chosiah says her administration has agreed with Lampung province to start building a bridge over the Sunda Strait separating Java and Sumatra in 2009.

"I have proposed to the National Planning Body (Bappenas) to include the Sunda Strait bridge plan into the national spatial layout plan and we thank all legislative councils in Sumatra and Java for their support for the plan," she said Saturday.

Atut said the construction of the bridge would be beneficial to all provinces in Java and Sumatra.

Atut, who is the first female governor in the country, said PT Artha Graha Network, owned by tycoon Tommy Winata, was the only company that had shown interest in investing in the Rp 94 trillion project.

Both the Banten and Lampung administrations are yet to sign a written agreement with Artha Graha.

Banten legislative council speaker Adi Surya Dharma said the construction of the crossing bridge would not be a burden on the government if the two provincial administrations were able to pull in foreign investment for the project.

"I hope all provinces in Java and Sumatra could be stakeholders in the project because they will also be advantaged by the bridge," Adi said after meeting with members of the Indonesian Provincial Legislatures Coordinating Body (BKDPI).

Adi, a councillor from the Golkar party, confirmed that he accompanied Atut and Lampung governor Sjahcroedin ZP to meet with Tommy Winata in Jakarta last week to discuss plans for the project.

Separately, Wiratman, a consultant in the bridge project, said the construction of the longest bridge in the country would need at least US$10 billion.

He said the project would be based on the Messina Strait Bridge in Italy.

"The materials used for construction must be flexible so that the bridge won't be shaken by earthquakes," Wiratman said.

Wiratman said the bridge would cross over several small islands such as Ular, Sanghyang and Prajurit.

"The bridge will have six lanes for vehicles and a lane for pedestrians," he said, adding that construction would take at least five years.

BKDPI chairman Ade Suraprayitna said he would prepare a recommendation to be delivered to all council speakers in Java and Sumatra for them to put concrete support behind the plan.

"We realize that (bridge) will open various opportunities which will in turn also help increase the welfare of people in Java and Sumatra, not just Banten and Lampung," said Ade, who is speaker of the Jakarta City Council.

He said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had expressed his support for the bridge project and had no doubts the central government would help finance it.
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