Fri, 11 Jul 2008
From: The Jakarta Post
By Fadli, The Jakarta Post, Batam
Fed up after six years of neglect, investors in Batam have called on the government to do something about seriously damaged roads and port facilities that have caused billions of rupiah in business losses.

Head of the Riau Islands chapter of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Johannes Kennedy Aritonang, told the Jakarta Post recently that many roads in Batam were badly damaged, but central and local government failed to repair them.

The damaged roads and harbors, he said, are disrupting the distribution of products from factories to harbors and from one company to another.

Johannes said investors also complained about Batu Ampar Port taking on shipments beyond its capacity. Many products are delayed while loading onto ships, with long queues into the harbor.

More than two million 20-foot container units congested the harbor, which only has capacity for 700,000.

"We do hope the government will seriously pay attention to these problems and act to solve them. We really get tired of having the same problems every year," Johannes said.

The Batam Industrial Development Authority (BIDA) says that about 4,000 square meters of road surface out of a total of 1,511,650 need repairs on the 170-kilometer main road network,

About 10,000 square meters out of 1,511,650 of the 143.41 kilometers of connecting roads are also damaged in places.

Traveling time from some factories in the city's industrial sites to the harbor has doubled from 30 minutes in normal conditions to 60 minutes.

The Batam chapter administrator of the Indonesian Freight Forwarder Association (Gafeksi), Daniel Burhanuddin, said that the government managed the harbors badly.

"Lack of coordination between harbor agencies causes delays for ships taking on cargo," Daniel said.

BIDA spokesperson Dwi Djoko Wiwoho said trucks entering port were generally over 10 tons, while the roads were designed to take loads up to 8 tons.

"We do not have funds to construct reinforced concrete roads with capacity over 10 tons," Djoko said.

Djoko said that BIDA had collaborated with French investors to improve the cargo harbor, but he did not know when this project would be started.

The chairman of Commission II of the local legislative council, Bastoni Solihin, asked Batam municipality to respond to investors' complaints and to find solutions. This is very urgent in order to retain business in Batam, he said.

The fund allocated for road maintenance, amounting to Rp 3.7 billion (US$400,300), was not enough. "It's too small compared with the funds allocated to the social budget, which is over Rp 54 billion," he said.



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