The Jakarta Post
President Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono is scheduled to preside over the official opening of the island's first toll road on Monday afternoon.
The Rp 2.48 trillion (US$220 million) highway connects Benoa-Kuta-Nusa Dua and is expected to ease congestion in an area increasingly famous, not for its top-notch tourist facilities, but for its notorious traffic instead.
The public, however, will have to wait until Tuesday to use the road dubbed the most beautiful toll road in Indonesia. Tuesday marks the start of the one-week trial operation, during which the public could use the road free of charge.
Yudhoyono is scheduled to open the toll road at 3 p.m. at the Nusa Dua toll gate.
On Sunday, workers and contractors were busy decorating the venue and setting up the sound system. Groups of performers were also seen rehearsing for the opening ceremony.
'After the ceremony, we will still close the road to clear up anything that may disrupt the traffic. We will open the toll gates to the public on Tuesday morning, and everyone can use the toll road for free for the next one week,' director of PT Jasa Marga Bali Tol, Akhmad Tito Karim, told journalists during a press conference on Sunday at Nusa Dua
He said that the toll road would by fully operational on Oct. 1. From that day, motorists would have to pay to use the 12.7 kilometer road.
The Indonesian Toll Road Authority (BPJT) has set tariffs of Rp 4,000 for motorcycles and Rp 10,000 for cars, including small trucks and buses. Large trucks will be charged from Rp 15,000 to Rp 30,000 depending on size. Electronic toll cards are provided by Bank Mandiri for those who want a faster service through the toll gate dedicated to E-toll card users.
The company predicts that daily traffic will reach 39,000 vehicles per day, 56 percent of which would be motorcycles.
The toll road runs over the sea and was built using 33,835 concrete columns, some of them through an area of previously pristine mangrove forest. The road has a separate lane for motorcycles, making it the country's second toll road, after the Suramadu toll road connecting Java to Madura island in East Java, that allows motorcycles.
The investment break-even point is forecast for year 15. PT Jasa Marga Bali Tol has been granted the right to manage the road for 45 years. 'After 45 years, we will hand the road over to the government. It depends on the government whether they want to operate it as a public road or a toll road,' Karim said.
As of Sunday, the road had yet to be named. BPJT secretary, Arif Wicaksono, admitted that several names had been proposed by the administration to the Public Works Ministry and Yudhoyono. These included Soekarno-Hatta, I Wayan Lotring (a respected artist from Badung who lived between 1898 and 1983), and Prof. Ida Bagus Mantra, the much-beloved former Bali governor. More recently, there has also been discourse on using Bali Mandara, the name of Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika's pet programs.
'Temporarily, we will continue to call the road the Nusa Dua-Ngurah Rai-Benoa toll road. But we don't know if tomorrow the president will officially declare the new name,' Arif said.