Northern highway will be in better shape for Idul Fitri: Ministry
Nurfika Osman, The Jakarta Post - 22/06/2012
The government plans to spend Rp 1.03 trillion (US$ 109.18 million) to fix Java’s north coast highway (Pantura) in 2011, with most work slated for completion before millions return home for the Idul Fitri holiday exodus in August.
The Public Works Ministry’s Bina Marga director, Winarno, said that the money would used to renovate or repair damaged roads, potholes and bridges.
The work is expected to be complete before the start of the Idul Fitri holiday, which is observed by Muslims throughout the nation to mark the end of the Ramadhan fasting month.
Winarno said that the Pantura highway would be ready for increased traffic ahead of the holiday, which is expected to start on August 19, depending on a final determination from religious leaders.
“Pantura is the busiest and the main highway in Java and the backbone of the island’s economy. Thus, we need to maintain its infrastructure very well, every single year,” Winarno told reporters.
Winarno said that the Public Works Ministry and local governments have started work on renovating segments of the highway, including those between Tangerang and Merak, Cilegon and Pasauran, Karawang and Losari, Losari and Brebes, Pati and Rembang, and Pemanukan and Palimanan.
Bridges currently under renovation include those in Cipunegara, Bandengan, Kanci, Kapidodo, Bremi, Old Juwana and Pemali, he said.
“We are using some new technology to repair the bridges this year, because the number of multi-axle trucks using the Pantura is increasing every year due to better economic growth,” he said.
The number of heavy trucks travelling along part of 1,182-kilometer highway has reached 48,000 a day, more than 140 percent of its rated maximum capacity of 20,000, and was expected to rise by ten percent a year in the future, Winarno said.
“Maintaining Pantura is a never-ending job and it becomes more crucial when the Idul Fitri celebration approaches,” Winarno said.
He said that the Public Works Ministry guaranteed that the Pantura highway would be in better shape this year, as renovations and repairs began in May.
The government spent Rp 939 billion to maintain the highway in 2011, which was a 16 percent decrease from the Rp 1.12 trillion budgeted in 2010, he said.
“We hope the Transportation Ministry can finish the Trans-Java double track railway project immediately because the Pantura is overcrowded,” he said.
The Transportation Ministry previously said that it would accelerate construction of the 727-kilometer railroad after it secured an additional Rp 1.47 trillion from the state budget.
Transportation Ministry railways chief Tundjung Inderawan said that the money would be used to finish several segments by the end of 2013, a year ahead of schedule: Cirebon–Brebes, Pekalonga–Semarang, Semarang–Bojonegoro and Bojonegoro–Surabaya.
The funding would help them to finish up to 30 percent of the total construction of the remaining sections by the end of 2012.
According to the ministry, almost 15 percent of the work on the project has been completed, mostly along the 62 kilometers spanning Cirebon and Brebes.
When the project is complete, the double-track system will increase current capacity from 64 to 200 trains per day and increase container traffic from 5,000 to 15,000 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) a week.
The Rp 9.8 trillion project is part of the government’s Master Plan for Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Growth (MP3EI).