The Archipelago

Kuala Namu airport to be
operational in 2013

Commencement of operations at the Kuala Namu Airport in Deli Serdang regency, North Sumatra, scheduled to begin in 2012, has been postponed again.

The postponement of the planned airport, which is poised to replace Polonia Airport in Medan, was announced during Transportation Minister Freddy Numberi’s working visit to the provincial administrative office in Medan on Monday.

Freddy ensured that the Kuala Namu Airport would begin operating in early 2013.

“Around 70 percent of construction has been completed. We have planned that the runway and terminal would be completed by November 2012, so the trial operation could be conducted in early 2013,” Freddy said.

The delayed operation is contrary to promises made by Freddy and Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa to the public in North Sumatra four months earlier when they offered assurances that the airport would start operations in 2012.

Hatta said the government was committed to completing the project by 2012 because it was included in the national program’s top priority list.

The Kuala Namu Airport construction, initiated in 1994, stands on a 1,035-hectare plot. It is designed to accommodate 8 million passengers annually. Upon completion, it will have a 3,750-meter runway and 33 aprons, and will be equipped to accommodate wide-body aircraft, such as the Airbus A380.

The total cost of construction is pegged at Rp 10.6 trillion (about US$1.04 billion), which is jointly borne by state airport management firm PT Angkasa Pura (Rp 1.8 trillion) and the central government (Rp 5.6 trillion).

Freddy said that the government was making efforts to complete the project on time.

“We will meet the target of completing the Kuala Namu Airport project. This is an important part of North Sumatra’s history,” he said.

He expressed hope the provincial administration could help open road access and acquire land around the airport to accelerate airport operations. “We are looking forward to assistance from the provincial administration. The provincial administration is responsible for completing road access,” said Fredy.

North Sumatra provincial legislator Rahmat Shah expressed disappointment with Freddy and Hatta.

“I’m very disappointed. This shows that the government’s system is ineffective, evident from the inconsistency between what has been said and reality,” Rahmat said.

Rahmat said he sensed irregularities in project fund usage, especially after the project manager recently explained the development of the airport to a number of House of Representatives members.

He said that during the disclosure the project manager said another
Rp 2 trillion was needed to complete the airport — Rp 1 trillion to construct the runway and Rp 1 trillion to correct design flaws.

“I believe corruption has taken place and numbers manipulated in the project. It is natural that the project is never complete because the amount of funds has always been manipulated,” Rahmat said.

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