The Finance Ministry says that it wants no special consideration given to any firms during the tender process for the Sunda Strait Bridge (SSB) project, regardless of a previous presidential regulation.
The government would amend the presidential decree on the SSB project to drop stipulations giving the consortium that initiated the project preferential treatment, Bambang Brodjonegoro, the ministry’s interim fiscal agency head, said on Tuesday.
Bambang’s statement follows months of debate about the special considerations that were said to have created tension between Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo and Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa, although both have denied any ill feelings.
The firm that initiated the project is a consortium comprising Tomy Winata’s Artha Graha Group and the regional governments of Banten and Lampung.
Under the current decree, the initiator will be appointed to conduct a feasibility study and would be granted, as the financier of the study, privileges during the open tender, such as a right to match the lowest offer received.
The revised regulation will stipulate that the government finance the study itself, obviating the need for special consideration for the consortium.
“We want the tender process on the project to be conducted with equal fairness for all participants,” Bambang told reporters in Jakarta on Tuesday. “This is a large project worth more than Rp 100 trillion [US$10.6 billion]. It will be better if the feasibility study is conducted by the government.”
Bambang said the government acknowledged that the consortium had spent hundreds of billions of rupiah on a pre-feasibility study.
“They [the consortium] still have a chance to bid on the tender, but if they choose not to, then we might consider regulations for the tender winner to compensate the initiator’s costs for the pre-feasibility study,” he added.
Bambang said that all relevant ministers had agreed to revise the presidential regulation, while Agus on Tuesday said that the revisions would be discussed as soon as possible in the spirit of “finding the best solution for everyone.”
President Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono will have the final say on the revised regulation.
The decree currently stipulates that ground must be broken on the project by 2014, which allows less a year for the feasibility study and tender process.
The SSB has been designed to Banten in western part of Java with Lampung in the southern part of Sumatra. Currently, passengers and cargos from Sumatra and Java are transported through Merak Port in Banten and Bakauheni in Lampung.
A single ferry journey takes between three to four hours, while a fast boat ride takes around 45 minutes. However, service is frequently disrupted by high tides.
Upon completion of the bridge, it would only take 30 minutes for passengers and cargos to cross the Sunda Strait by electric train.
The bridge is planned to be 29 kilometers long, six times the length of the Suramadu Bridge that connects Surabaya and Madura in East Java.
It is planned to have six car lanes, double railway tracks and motorcycle lanes.