President Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono inaugurated eight mega projects in resource-rich East Kalimantan on Wednesday as part of the Master Plan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesia’s Economic Development (MP3EI).
“Don’t underestimate the huge island of Kalimantan only as a sleeping giant any longer. Alhamdulillah [God willing], it is no longer so,” the President said to an audience that included Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa, East Kalimantan Governor Awang Faroek Ishak and Balikpapan Mayor Rizal Effendi, among others.
Two of the projects have already been completed: Kariangau Port in Balikpapan and Kalimarau Airport in Berau regency in the north part of the province.
Still under construction are an expansion project for Sepinggan Airport in Balikpapan; Pertamina’s Lawe-Lawe Centralized Crude Terminal (CCT) in North Penajam Paser regency; twin bridges in Samarinda, East Kalimantan; an industrial estate and an international port in East Kutai regency; the development of PT Pupuk Kalimantan Timur’s Kaltim-5 urea fertilizer plant in Bontang regency, and a new airport for Samarinda.
Yudhoyono said that the eight projects had a combined price tag of Rp 19 trillion (US$2 billion).
The projects were implemented under the central government’s MP3EI blueprint that calls for infrastructure development to improve connectivity throughout the archipelago. Development is slated to take place along six economic corridors throughout the nation: Sumatra, Kalimantan, Java, Sulawesi, Bali and Nusa Tenggara and Papua-Maluku.
Yudhoyono said that many of his critics had expressed doubts after he launched the master plan, with people calling it simply a publicity stunt.
“Please answer [the doubts] with real work. Answer them with evidence and answer them by presenting what has been targeted in the MP3EI to the public,” the President told his ministers and other officials assembled for the inauguration.
Yudhoyono said that he had persisted in implementing the master plan as he was confident that the government would succeed in realizing its ambitious development design.
Governor Awang said that the recently completed Kalimarau Airport has opened with a 2,250 meter runway that can accommodate medium-range jet airliners such as the Boeing 737 aircraft.
The airport, which is equipped with a 9,000-square-meter terminal, has already received its operating license from the Transportation Ministry, according to the governor.
“Kalimarau Airport is important to boost tourism in Berau, including to help the success of the Sail Komodo-Derawan event in 2013,” Awang said.
The airport was also designed as a transit hub for passengers bound for destinations in East Kalimantan’s northern regencies of Nunukan, Malinau, Tana Tidung, Bulungan and Tarakan, as well as Sebatik regency on Sebatik Island, which is divided between Indonesia and Malaysia, according to Awang.
East Kalimantan is the major business hub for Kalimantan, an island that is known for its huge coal, gas, oil palm and oil resources. The boom in coal businesses in the past 10 years has positioned the island as the largest contributor to the middle-class population in Indonesia, according to the Central Statistics Agency.
Aside from East Kalimantan, which is expected to become the pinnacle of the MP3EI success story, Hatta also gave a rundown of infrastructure and development to those assembled at the inauguration ceremony.
There were 135 projects in Indonesia with a combined investment of Rp 500 trillion in the January-to-June period, the coordinating minister said: fifty-eight in the real sector and 77 infrastructure projects.
The government would also realize investment projects with combined commitments of Rp 230 trillion by the end of the year, he added.
“The investment projects require hard work and support. We will continue to monitor them from the initial stage up to their operational phase,” Hatta said.