Toll road promoters received a boost in July when President Megawati suggested that eight suspended toll road projects, including the one through Surabaya, were to move forward. Since then, the Mayor and other elected leaders, who are from the same political party as the president, have felt pressure to refrain from public criticism of the project. Many, however, went on the record with strong opposition prior to the President’s announcement.
The proposal to build the 18.4km road from Waru/Wonokromo to Tanjung Perak was developed in the mid-1990s, but the financial crisis in late 1997 resulted in a presidential decree suspending it and several other large infrastructure projects. Since the proposal was first introduced, none of the preliminary design details have been made public, nor have the results of cost/benefit studies performed by investors or consultants.
In addition, no environmental or traffic impact statement has been performed. The Surabaya Integrated Transportation Network Planning Project, a multi-year study financed by the World Bank as part of a Surabaya urban transport loan, reviewed the project in 1998 and strongly recommended against implementation. An independent team led by the Chairman of the Indonesian Transportation Society recommended that the project should not proceed without a traffic impact analysis.
The reasons that city officials oppose the highway are numerous. No study in Surabaya in the last 10 years has recommended a central toll road. The huge elevated structure would cut Surabaya in two – making it even more difficult for the vast majority residents who do not own a car (92.2%) to access schools, markets and work places. The implications of the proposed toll road for air quality, congestion, noise and quality of life in the city would be grave, as the traffic channeled into the city centre – as well as induced traffic – would further burden an already overloaded city centre traffic network.