Heru Andriyanto, Jakarta – The Public Works Ministry has released a statement claiming that the government of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo built 1,500 kilometers more of "national roads" than his predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, or SBY, did in the previous administration.
The statement came amid heated public debate about who has built more roads, triggered by former Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan who said in a recent rally that SBY built a lot more roads than Jokowi.
Anies, a presidential nominee from the National Democratic Party (Nasdem), also criticized Jokowi for focusing more on toll roads that people have to pay to travel on.
But the ministry said that not only did Jokowi outperform SBY in toll road construction, but the current government also built more public roads.
The ministry noted that the budget to build new roads during the SBY era (2004-2014) stood at Rp 30.68 trillion ($2 billion) and the overall cost to build a new road is put at between Rp 8 billion and Rp 12 billion per kilometer.
"With a budget of Rp 30.68 trillion, the materialized new national roads have a total length of 3,835 kilometers," the statement said.
The Jokowi government, meanwhile, allocated a budget of Rp 52.97 trillion and the result was 5,386 kilometers of new roads, it said.
In short, when it comes to brand-new roads, Jokowi outperformed SBY by 1,551 kilometers.
While admitting that the data published by news website Katadata and later quoted by Anies during the rally last weekend correspond with the figures in the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), the ministry alleged that they have been misinterpreted.
"The change in the overall length of the roads doesn't necessarily reflect the construction of new roads. In fact, it's greatly affected by a change of the status," it said.
For example, the total length of the national roads could increase significantly if the previously district-level roads were upgraded to the national level.
National-level roads include inter-province highways and roads leading to centers of national activities such as airports, main seaports, public markets, or toll roads.
Provincial roads refer to roads that link the provincial capital to districts and cities, and so on.
The claim that the SBY government has built a total of 144,825 kilometers of roads "is not true", the ministry said.
Anies said the Jokowi government has built a little above 19,000 kilometers of new roads that the ministry also said "doesn't correspond with data".