Aichi Halik, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Thursday launched the new Jakarta-Cikampek elevated toll road, a key infrastructure expected to unravel traffic gridlock in industrial areas near Jakarta.
"Construction on the elevated Jakarta-Cikampek II Toll Road has been completed. Soon we can start using it," Jokowi said.
The president said he had heard many complaints about monstrous traffic jams lasting for hours on the old Jakarta-Cikampek toll road.
The toll road was built to link industrial complexes and suburban conclaves in Bekasi in West Java to the capital Jakarta and Indonesia's largest seaport, Tanjung Priok.
But it is also the main passageway to cities further out like Cirebon and Bandung in West Java or Semarang in Central Java and Surabaya in East Java, making traffic on it unbearable during rush hours.
Construction on the elevated toll road began in 2017. The finished road spanned more than 36 kilometers, with separate lanes for commuter traffic and traffic heading to further destinations.
Jokowi said he expected the elevated section of the first double-decker motorway in the country would reduce traffic congestion by 30 percent.
The construction drew heavy criticisms as it coincided with two other key infrastructure projects, the Jakarta Bandung high-speed train and Jakarta light rail transit (LRT) that occupy spaces adjacent to the toll road. Both will be completed 2021 according to the government's schedule.
"Imagine how congested [the traffic] would be if we were late in building these new infrastructures. Political considerations should not stop us making important decisions, especially those that will improve our competitiveness," Jokowi said.
Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono said earlier the elevated toll road still needs some finishing touches before it can become fully operational.
"But it would definitely be open before Dec. 20, free of charge until the New Year," Basuki said.