Public Works and Public Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono has approved the operation of 35 kilometers of two strategic toll roads, namely the Banda Aceh-Sigli in Aceh and the Manado-Bitung in North Sulawesi, to boost economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Aceh, a 14-km section has been opened connecting Indrapuri and Blang Bintang, where Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport is located. Meanwhile, two toll road sections in North Sulawesi, spanning 21 km, which will connect Manado, Airmadidi, and a part of Kauditan, are also set to operate soon.
“The toll roads connecting productive regions will reduce logistics costs and improve the competitiveness of local products. They will also boost regional economic growth and establish new economic centers,” Basuki said in a statement released on Sunday.
COVID-19 restrictions, which are now being phased out in some places, have caused logistical disruptions along the supply chain by limiting mobility. Meanwhile, the economy grew 2.97 percent in the first quarter of this year, the lowest in 19 years.
However, the government is committed to continuing the development of strategic national projects during the COVID-19 health crisis with the addition of 89 projects with an estimated investment value of Rp 1.42 quadrillion (US$96.8 billion).
Coordinating Economic Affairs Minister Airlangga Hartarto stated recently that the new projects were an addition to the existing 223 strategic national projects and were expected to employ about 4 million additional workers each year from 2020 to 2024.
The Banda Aceh-Sigli toll road, stretching for 74 km in total, is the first-ever toll road in Aceh. Construction started in 2018 by state-owned construction firm Hutama Karya. The investment in the project, with a total of six road sections, is estimated at Rp 12.35 trillion, with a construction cost of Rp 9 trillion.
It is expected to cut the journey between provincial capital Banda Aceh and Sigli to one hour from the previous three hours.
Meanwhile, the 46-km Manado-Bitung toll road is estimated to cost Rp 6.19 trillion. The government is set to build the first section, while the second section will be constructed using a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme with PT Jasa Marga Manado Bitung.
The toll road will provide a boost for the region’s tourism, especially the Manado-Bitung-Likupang area, which has been listed as one of the five priority tourism areas to be developed this year.