Country’s Longest Bridge Opens

SURABAYA ~ President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono opened a massive bridge linking Surabaya, the country’s second biggest city, to Madura island on Wednesday.

The Suramadu Bridge stretches 5.4 kilometres from the city in east Java to Bangkalan regency in less developed Madura.

The bridge, Indonesia’s longest, cost Rp4.5 trillion (US$450 million), took six years to build and spent 50 years on the drawing boards of the country’s strategic planners.

“In front of us, the dream has become a reality,” Yudhoyono said as he formally cut the ribbon on the dual carriageway toll bridge, in a ceremony that was televised live around the archipelago.

“Suramadu Bridge was designed, developed and built by the nation’s best people,” he said.

The bridge is one of the first major infrastructure projects to be completed in Indonesia since the collapse of the Suharto presidency more than 10 years ago.

The government had planned to raise $20 billion for infrastructure in 2006 but investors baulked at the opportunity, partly due to what the World Bank called “institutional fragmentation” – or red tape.

Indonesia has budgeted an extra $1.2 billion for infrastructure projects in 2009 as part of a $7-billion stimulus package.

The Suramadu Bridge was built with the help of a concessional loan from China.

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