Indonesia will begin construction of its longest sea bridge next year in a bid to connect two of its islands, the country’s cabinet secretariat announced on July 11. It’s hoped the bridge, which will link Batam and Bintan, will spur economic growth and encourage trade with neighbouring Singapore.
The Batam-Bintan Bridge will be approximately 7km in length and cost up to IDR 4trn ($284.7m) to construct. While proposals to build the bridge have long enjoyed support from the Indonesian Government, they have struggled to take off. This announcement marks a significant push to finally get the project underway, with the government estimating it will take three or four years to complete.
The Batam-Bintan Bridge is likely to increase tourism and attract Singaporean firms to the Indonesian islands
The islands of Batam and Bintan sit adjacent to Singapore. As such, the bridge is likely to increase tourism and attract Singaporean firms to the Indonesian islands. In recent years, the two neighbours have been forging stronger ties and working together through the private sector for mutual benefit. For example, a large-scale technology park was launched in Batam last year in the hope of serving as a ‘digital bridge’ between the two nations.
Furthermore, Batam and Bintan enjoy strategic locations along major shipping routes. Since Batam is Indonesia’s only free trade zone, the island is particularly well placed to benefit from the US-China trade war. In fact, Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Pegatron, one of Apple’s biggest suppliers, will open its first factory in Batam this year in a bid to shield itself from the impact of the trade conflict.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has promised to invest $400bn into the country’s infrastructure over the coming years. By connecting Batam to Bintan, Widodo intends to transform the region into a shipping and manufacturing hub, as well as bring in $60bn in new investment. In order to achieve this goal, Indonesia has also earmarked Batam and Bintan as pilot locations for the development of an industrial zone for the processing halal goods.