Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has acknowledged receiving numerous requests from regional leaders for the construction of toll roads across the country. The popularity of these requests stems from the widespread benefits that toll road offers to communities, facilitating improved mobility for both people and goods.
Notably, President Jokowi emphasized that the demand for toll road development extends beyond Java Island, encompassing every region in Indonesia. However, the government remains steadfast in its commitment to prioritize infrastructure projects in non-Java regions.
“Regional leaders, including governors, regents, and mayors, perceive toll roads as pivotal drivers for new economic growth, enhancing the movement of people, goods, and logistics. These perceived benefits have led to an upsurge in the number of requests,” President Jokowi remarked during a press statement released on Monday, July 24, 2023, as cited on the official Setkab website.
With regard to toll road construction within Java Island, President Jokowi clarified that he would only approve projects that demonstrate sound investment calculations. Should the internal rate of return (IRR) not meet the required standards, the government may consider providing state capital injections (Penyertaan Modal Negara/PMN) to state-owned enterprises (BUMN) or entrust the construction to the Ministry of Public Works and Housing (Kementerian Pekerjaan Umum dan Perumahan Rakyat/PUPR).
“The assessments and calculations are ongoing, encompassing projects in East Java, including those in Malang,” President Jokowi elaborated.
In the midst of these developments, the toll road development program initiated during Jokowi’s administration has faced criticism from certain quarters, including former Vice President of Indonesia during 2004-2009 and 2014-2019, Jusuf Kalla.
Kalla pointed out that Jokowi’s focus on toll road construction seemed to overshadow the attention given to non-toll or free roads. Although acknowledging the successful construction of 2,600 kilometers of toll roads during Jokowi’s nine-year tenure, Kalla underscored the need for the government to prioritize the improvement of regular roads as well.
“While the government takes pride in building 2,600 kilometers of toll roads, it is vital to acknowledge the 170,000 kilometers of damaged roads across Indonesia, as indicated by data from BPS (Statistics Indonesia). This disparity implies that good roads are perceived to be accessible mainly to the affluent who can afford toll fees, whereas the ordinary people, including farmers and small traders who rely on non-toll roads daily, find their roads left unrepaired. This stark contrast constitutes an injustice to the people; it is merely a small yet telling example,” Jusuf Kalla expressed during the 21st-anniversary celebration of the Prosperous Justice Party (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera/PKS) on Saturday, May 20, 2023.
As the discourse surrounding toll road development and road infrastructure continues, the Indonesian government faces the challenge of balancing the nation’s transportation needs while ensuring equitable access to roadways for all citizens.
The importance of striking this balance cannot be understated, as it directly impacts economic growth, regional development, and the overall well-being of the Indonesian population. As the nation strives to enhance its infrastructure, the decisions made in this regard will shape the country’s progress and inclusivity, ultimately defining the path towards a more prosperous and equitable future.