Your letters: Sunda Strait Bridge fiasco
Paper Edition | Page: 8
With reference to the article titled “Agus goes against the tide in bridge fiasco” published on July 25 on page 10, I have to say that Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo is a very wise man.
The article indicates the financial risk involved over the entire project; construction of the bridge including revenue potential and (re)financing, not forgetting the preferential treatment for some involved parties that definitely will include a large portion of corruption and mismanagement.
That is a clear statement and correct. A feasibility study of the technical construction portion of the project will most likely show that it is feasible, taking into account additional measures and costs with regard to earthquake protection and other technical possibilities.
Feasibility in terms of financial risks will be a more tricky issue and therefore requires thorough research and investigation. It is no point when future generations still have to suffer under the burden of initial construction costs while (preventive) maintenance, also very important, is put on the back burner.
Nobody is mentioning the inclusion of a feasibility study of financial risks for smooth connection to proper running and existing infrastructure at both ends of the project, e.g. from Medan to Bali or over a more limited distance to Jakarta. Where is the investment taken into account and what are otherwise the gains of such a costly project?
It might be worthwhile to narrow down the estimated US$15 billion budget for the project itself. It is not easy at this preliminary stage of the project, but it is very advisable to give it a try.
The mentioning of initially estimated US$190 million price tag for a feasibility study (and still rising) is not substantiated at this stage in the project as well as the remark by the lead engineer in a similar article that the government should not be overly concerned about the risk as the cost would be covered by the initiator. I think costs of 2 to 3 percent for a feasibility study sound more plausible at this stage of the project.
Mind you, Indonesia has no experience with projects of this scale and penny-wise-pound-foolish behavior will be punished sooner or later. Of course, the higher the construction costs, feasibility costs cannot just be extrapolated proportionally and will be dictated by deliberate decisions.
At this stage, the remark “the Sunda Strait Bridge is a bridge too far in the future” is correct, and should not be ignored. It requires a lot of professional and academic contributions at an exceptionally high level.