In search of smoother traffic, beautiful views

by Ni Komang Erviani on 2013-09-24

Joy ride: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono waves while being driven along the newly opened Bali Mandara toll road on Monday afternoon. BD/Zul Trio AnggonoJoy ride: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono waves while being driven along the newly opened Bali Mandara toll road on Monday afternoon. BD/Zul Trio Anggono

Forget the annoying traffic congestion on your way to Nusa Dua, Benoa Bay and Ngurah Rai International Airport that has become the bane of your life and caused severe headaches.

The island’s first toll road, now officially called Bali Mandara toll road, has at last been opened to the public with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signing a commemorative plaque to mark its official opening on a hot Monday afternoon.

The president and his entourage — Public Works Minister Djoko Kirmanto, Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa and Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik, alongside Governor Made Mangku Pastika and other VIP guests were the first to officially use the road.

“I pronounce this road the Bali Mandara toll road, meaning great Bali — Bali that moves forward, is safe, prosperous and peaceful,” the president said during the opening ceremony.

Many names had been suggested for the so-called “most beautiful” toll road in Indonesia. However, the final choice — a closely guarded secret to the end, was adopted from Pastika’s pet social welfare programs improving healthcare, education, agriculture and community-based programs. Mandara is an acronym for Indonesian words — maju (move forward), aman (safe), damai (peaceful) and sejahtera (prosperous).

The authorities are claiming that this is the fastest completion of an infrastructure project, taking only 14 months. The 12.7 kilometer-long toll road had been constructed over the sea and, in part, runs through protected mangrove forests.

Numerous academics, scholars and environmentalists had voiced serious concerns over the construction of the toll road, which deviated from its approved environmental impact analysis and badly affected both the mangroves and surrounding marine habitat.

Local fishermen and nearby fishing villages also no longer have access to their previous fishing grounds.

However, President Yudhoyono, while riding in the presidential vehicle over the newly opened road, claimed, “The toll road is an infrastructure masterpiece that was built with environmentally friendly and advanced technology. Besides, the views from the toll road are breathtaking. You can see the water below the road and green mangrove forests all over the place.”

Crowded: Hundreds of vehicles carrying distinguished invitees follow President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s entourage, trying out the Bali Mandara toll road on Monday afternoon. BD/Zul Trio AnggonoCrowded: Hundreds of vehicles carrying distinguished invitees follow President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s entourage, trying out the Bali Mandara toll road on Monday afternoon. BD/Zul Trio Anggono

The Rp 2.48 trillion (US$220 million) highway has been built under a public-private partnership involving seven state-owned enterprises, the Bali administration and Badung regency administration.

The state-owned enterprises involved on the project are PT Jasa Marga, PT Pelindo III, PT Angkasa Pura I, PT Pengembangan Pariwisata Bali, PT Wijaya Karya, PT Adhi Karya and PT Hutama Karya. PT Jasa Marga has the biggest ownership, at 55 percent, while the provincial and Badung regency administrations each have 8.01 percent ownership.

The toll road, as well as the renovations to Ngurah Rai airport, is part of the government’s attempt to accelerate economic development in the country under the Masterplan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Development (MP3EI). “I hope the toll road, as well as the renovated airport, can accelerate economic development, not only in Bali, but also in the Bali-Nusa Tenggara economic corridor,” the president said.

Pastika also conveyed his pride in the toll road. “The new toll road will certainly boost Bali’s image as an international tourist destination. I hope APEC delegates and Miss World participants can enjoy the beautiful scenery of Bali from the toll road,” the governor said.

The toll road is free to use for the first week and then becomes fully operational on Oct. 1. From that date, motorists have to pay to use the road. Tariffs have been set at Rp 4,000 for motorcycles and Rp 10,000 for cars, with more expensive prices for trucks.

It is predicted that daily traffic will reach 39,000 vehicles per day, 56 percent of which would be motorcycles

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