Due to uncertainty over the feasibility study, it seems highly unlikely that groundbreaking of the ambitious Sunda Strait Bridge project can be conducted in 2014. There has been a long delay with the feasibility study as differences of opinion emerged over who would undertake the study and how it will be financed. Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa said that if the government considers the project to have high priority, then it should make a decision now. If not, Indonesia's next government - after the 2014 elections - will be burdened with the issue.
According to Hatta Rajasa, there are two options to finance the feasibility study. Firstly, it can be financed by Indonesia's State Budget (APBN), or, secondly, by state-owned enterprises and the Graha Banten Lampung Sejahtera consortium. This consortium also undertook the pre-feasibility study (in 2009) and consists of the local governments of Banten and Lampung, and Artha Graha, a private company owned by Indonesian business tycoon Tommy Winata. This consortium will also undertake the feasibility study.
Sunda Strait Bridge Project
The Sunda Strait bridge, a planned road and railway connection between the two western Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java, has been a dream of Indonesia's political elite since the 1960s. From both a political and an economic point of view, the connection between these two islands through physical infrastructure is a grand ideal. However, as with many other infrastructure projects in Indonesia, its realization tests people's patience.
Also under the current Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono administration, the establishment of the 29- kilometer-long Sunda Strait Bridge (in Indonesian Jembatan Selat Sunda, abbreviated JSS) has been mentioned as a top priority to support the Indonesian economy.
Economic activity in Indonesia is heavily centered towards the western-located islands of Java and Sumatra. Both these islands together, account for approximately 80 percent of Indonesia's gross domestic product (GDP). The Greater Jakarta area (known as Jabotabek which is an urban region linking four big cities around Jakarta) by itself accounts for around 20 percent of Indonesia's GDP. As such, the Sunda Strait is positioned in an economically-highly-active area and thus needs to absorb a large flow of goods and human capital; a situation that requires good infrastructure in order to foster efficient use of time and money. As there has never been a bridge linking these two islands, Indonesians have relied on ferries to cross the strait (a much more costly alternative is air travel). Annually, an average of about 20 million people cross the Sunda Strait. By 2020, this number is estimated to double.
Currently, however, traffic congestion around the Merak harbor in Banten (on Java's side of the strait) - caused by a kilometers-long queue of trucks waiting to cross over to Sumatra by ferry - is a common sight. Obviously, it significantly increases logistics costs. In fact, recently Indonesia's Chamber of Commerce (Kadin) estimated that logistics costs take up around 24 percent of the country's GDP per year.
To overcome this situation, the government aims for the establishment of the Sunda Strait Bridge. This bridge (which is actually a series of bridges) will carry a three lane highway (in both directions), a double track railway, a footpath, an emergency lane for vehicles, pipelines (for oil, gas and water supply) and cabling works (fiber optic, telephone and electricity). It is expected to cost around USD $20 billion and will take more than a decade to build.