Controversy leads to delay in Surabaya toll road project
Indra Harsaputra, The Jakarta Post, Surabaya - 30/12/2010
The Surabaya Legislative Council has endorsed a toll road project but residents and the mayor have raised objections, fearing the prospect of exacerbated traffic problems.
The residents have rejected the plan, saying that the toll road, which would connect Waru, Sidoarjo and Tanjung Perak seaport, would displace more than 13,000 people living around the project.
Marking their protest, they posted banners Wednesday, with one reading “We will fight to the death to defend our homes”.
Wagiono, one of the protestors, said they had not been formally informed about the project.
The project will lead to them being rehoused in government apartments, to which they are averse as they consider such housing substandard.
“We refuse to be moved to apartments because they are dirty. We will defend our homes to the last drop of blood,” Wagiono told The Jakarta Post.
Isa Ansori had his own way of protesting, that is, by collecting coins from fellow residents. He said he would hand over the coins to the Surabaya Legislative Council.
“The coins, handed to city councilors, will indicate whether they are more concerned about the wishes of the citizens or the investor, which has offered to invest Rp 9 trillion (about US$900 million) in the project,” he said.
The planned 25-kilometer toll road, encompassing Waru, Menanggal, Gayungan, Jagir, Ngangel, Gubeng, Simokerto and Morokrembangan, was initiated in 1999 during former Surabaya mayor Soenarto Sumoprawiro’s leadership.
In 2006, the Public Works Ministry appointed PT Margaraya Jawa Tol as the developer.
However, in June 2007, the East Java legislature held a plenary session and canceled the project because the investor had failed to raise enough funds.
The then Surabaya mayor, Bambang Dwi Hartono, sent a letter dated Sept. 21, 2007 to the public works minister advising that the construction permit for the toll road had been revoked.
After several years of not getting a response from the central government, the investor again met Mayor Tri Rismaharini, currently serving the 2010-2015 term, to notify her of its ability to build the toll road.
Despite receiving a letter from the public works minister advising that the project should be resumed, Rismaharini remained adamant in her stance.
“We continue to reject the project, not because of personal interests but for the sake of public interest, in the case that the project doesn’t address traffic woes in Surabaya,” said Rismaharini.
She said the municipality had conducted a study on the impacts of the project and found it would instead exacerbate traffic problems in the city.
After being rejected by the mayor, PT Margaraya Jawa Tol presented a feasibility study of the project to the City Council on Dec. 16. The majority of councilors gave their consent, with only six of the 38 councilors opposing the plan.
Surabaya Chamber of Commerce head Djamhadi said having a toll road would boost East Java’s economy, especially with the smooth transportation of freight.
“The toll road will increase traffic from three times to four times daily, so much so that the load capacity will rise around 25 percent daily,” he said.
PT Margaraya Jawa Tol executive director Joko Eko Suprastowo said his firm would familiarize the residents promised modest apartments with the project.
“We are not evicting but relocating them to apartments not far from the city center,” he said.