Friday, August 17, 2012

Bullshit Building 12: Suramadu Bridge

The Madura island in Indonesia is a relatively big island. It is located right across Java, the most crowded Island on earth, the most developed island in Indonesia archipelago. Despite its proximity, that island is relatively under-developed compare to Java. So how the government try to stimulate the development of that island? By building a very large and long bridge to connect it with the city of Surabaya in East Java, the 2nd largest city in Indonesia. That sounds sensible ... until you take a closer look.

From wikipedia
The Result
The construction of the 5,5 km bridge between August 2003-June 2006 had problems, but nothing really special. Just typical problems encountered by any construction project in Indonesia. After spending 500 million Dollars, the longest bridge in Southeast Asia was opened by the president himself with a lavish ceremony. So far so good.

Unfortunately, from day one of the opening, people realize this bridge is actually not a good idea.

The first problem occurred just in the first weeks of the opening. Suddenly the big screws in the bridge were stolen. Yup, you read it correctly, people really stole those enormous screws that holds the bridge together. The government decided to weld all the screws to stop this problem.

Second problem is, large trucks and trollies can't use that bridge. There are 2 reasons for that. First, there is this concern that the bridge can't withstand those trucks. Hey, we are speaking about Indonesia here, where the bridges could collapse after some years. Second, the vendors in Surabaya's ferry harbor weren't happy seeing all of the trucks suddenly didn't come to them again. So, the government decided to order all large trucks to use the ferry, not the bridge.

The third problem occured in the city of Surabaya. Suddenly car theft and motorcycle theft numbers soared since the finishing of the bridge. Huh? How come? This is because all of those thief ALWAYS bring their loot to Madura. Now they've got a bridge, their operation become a hell lot easier.

And lastly, until 2012, the development of Madura is not stimulated by the bridge. No one wants to build anything, or invest their money, or start any kind of business there. 

Oh yeah, one thing developed though. After the government renovate the beach around the bridge, many people use it for illegal prostitution. That's how you want to stimulate the economy?

What is the cause of all this problem? Well ... we could trace it back to the beginning, to the very root. But bare with me, this is not a politically correct explanation.

Why Madura is underdeveloped?
Let's get back to the central assumption behind the building of this bridge: "Madura was underdeveloped because it is separated by waters with Java."

Nope, wrong assumption.

The real reason is, everyone never feel secure to invest their money in Madura.

You see, every ethnic in Indonesia has some stereotype. The Madurese has very negative stereotype. Their stereotype is so negative that everybody else believe that you can't build ANYTHING in Madura if you are not born & grow up there, if you can't speak Madurese language. Why? Because, according to the stereotype, living among the Madurese need a certain skill. We are talking about the stereotype that Madurese are easily offended people who easily swing their blades and cut other's stomach. They live like that even after they migrated to other islands. 

Just ask ANY Indonesian businessman, they will definitely said the same thing. Just ask ANY Indonesian whether they like to do any kind of business with the Madurese. 

Are these stereotypes fair? Maybe not. But it is still a fact that these stereotypes exist among other Indonesians. Even the government of Indonesia was hesitant to build anything in Madura. So, they try to "stimulate" private investors to invest there by build the bridge. Not a chance. Investors are not stupid, they check EVERYTHING before they put their money. Like it or not, they will discover these stereotypes.

So, if anyone really care about developing Madura, they have to prove to every Indonesian that these stereotypes are wrong. Dodging this problem due to political correctness, and building a bullshit bridge won't solve it.

But is this bridge 100% total-pure bullshit? Nah, it is only 99%. Nowadays people said you haven't been to Surabaya if you never been in this bridge. That is enough to reduce the bullshitness of this bridge by 1%.

Previous Bullshit Building: Abraj Al Bait Clock Tower
Next Bullshit Building: The Vatican 


  1. Its not for boosting economy for the people but for mining infrastructure. The Madura island will be sucked in the near future, just like Java, Borneo, Papua, etc. Screw with the lives of Maduranese, or even Javanese. Its all for profit!

  2. Which resources will be sucked?

    In which part of Madura?

    Which company/organization that does that?

  3. And I since large trucks can't use the bridge, does that mean that even the mining companies can't utilize the bridge effectively? Or are these companies never use large trucks?

  4. Mostly oil and gas. Most parts of Madura (the main island, and the islands of Sapeken, Kangean, Raas, etc) are already blocked, explored, some companies already built stations there. This is just a part of "tapal kuda" (northern East Java like Gresik, Situbondo, etc. + Madura).

    Who said large trucks aren't allowed to use the bridge?