The Jakarta Post
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo officially opened the new terminal of Ranai Airport in Natuna Island in Riau Islands province on Thursday, which is seen as a boost for the connectivity of one of Indonesia's outermost regions.
Ranai Airport serves as the air bridge that connects Natuna to Tanjung Pinang, the province's capital city and other cities such as Batam, Jokowi said.
"The sea and the sky are not separators. Connectivity among provinces and regencies is very important. Without connectivity, we will be left behind," he said in his inauguration speech.
The connectivity would assist people and logistics movements in Natuna, which would eventually lower logistics and transportation costs, he added.
Jokowi was on a working visit to Natuna accompanied by several senior ministers on Thursday. It comes after his visit in June where he held a Cabinet meeting aboard a warship in Natuna waters following a number of clashes between Indonesian and Chinese vessels in the area. Natuna sits close to the disputed South China Sea.
The new 3,865-square-meter terminal with a capacity of 385 people was built in collaboration with the local administration and the Air Force. It replaces the former 243-square-meter terminal. The runway was also expanded to 42 meters in width from the previous 32 meters to accommodate bigger aircraft.
"I have instructed the Transportation Ministry to persuade as many as airlines as possible to fly to Ranai," he said.
Jokowi also said the government had begun the development of a 100-hectare fisheries center in Lampa Strait in Natuna, which will be equipped with cold storage. The government aims to complete the construction by the end of 2017 and expects it will have a positive economic impact on the local area. (rin)
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