Innovation of Residents Thanks to the Toll Road in Riau
The Pekanbaru-Bangkinang toll road is expected to create new economic centers that create jobs and improve the welfare of the community.
RHAMA PURNA JATI
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The existence of toll roads in Riau brings up new spirit as well as anxiety for business people who depend on the fate of the highway. However, a number of innovations have emerged in order to adapt to the changes in the behavior of road users.
Lona Sari (27), owner of the Klinik Selara Shop, offered a number of typical Riau knickknack products to visitors of her shop in Bangkinang, Kampar regency, Riau, on Friday (6/1/2023). There were about 500 products that she displayed at the five by five-meter store.
Some of the products she offers include chips, syrup and pineapple dodol (sweet candy), as well as catfish skin crackers. There are also various other contemporary foods offered to customers. She gathers her products from micro businesses in seven villages in Bangkinang, Air Tiris and other districts in Kampar regency.
"Usually our customers are those who want to go home and bring knickknacks to West Sumatra," said Lona, who has been selling there for three years. Bangkinang is indeed a crossing area between Pekanbaru, Riau and Padang, West Sumatra.
The existence of the 30.9 kilometer Bangkinang-Pekanbaru toll road, which was inaugurated by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Wednesday (4/1), brings a special blessing for her.
When the toll rate was still free from October to 24 Dec. 2022, the number of customers increased 20 percent.
"On normal days the turnover was usually Rp 5 million (US$321) per day. When the toll was free, it rose to Rp 6 million to Rp 7 million per day," she said.
I promote the typical knickknacks of Kampar on social media so that orders do not only come from those who visit my store.
The increased turnover, Lona added, was due to the large number of people who wanted to try the new toll road, which is part of the Pekanbaru-Padang 254-kilometer-long toll road. Lona was optimistic that her efforts, which are in the city, continue even though the toll road will be connected to Padang. According to Lona, in the midst of technological advances, consumers can come from anywhere. Not only those who pass by, but anyone who needs knickknacks typical of Kampar as tokens of friendship.
"I promote the typical knickknacks of Kampar on social media so that orders do not only come from those who visit my store," Lona said.
With this kind of marketing method, around 60 percent of the income Lona earns come from customers who make orders via social media. She was optimistic that the number of customers who came directly to her shop would not decline because travellers to Bukittinggi, Payakumbuh and Solok in West Sumatra would come through Bangkinang.
Similar optimism was shown by Deby (43), a snack seller in Pasir Sialang village, Bangkinang. She considered the toll road would not have a negative impact on her business. "When the toll road was built, my turnover increased 50 percent because many toll workers eat at my place," she said.
When the toll road was connected, Deby hoped to sell at the rest area with a place provided by the toll road manager.
Zulhendri, a truck driver, assessed that the arterial lane would never be abandoned even though there is a toll road. "Many of them want to see the scenery rather than achieving their destinations quickly," he said.
Lona, Deby and Zulhendri hoped that the government would provide a place with affordable rental rates for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) along the Pekanbaru-Bangkinang toll road so that they could sell there. "Don't let them go out of business because of the local government being less creative," said Zulhendri.
Anxiety then became the reason for the Acting Regent of Kampar Kamsol to commit to reviving the tourism sector. "Some plans have been prepared so that Kampar is not only passed by, but visited by toll road users," he said.
The Kampar Regency Government is now preparing the Muara Takus Temple as a tourist destination. Then it will try to hold the Tour de Muara Takus sport event, which aims to bring the cyclist community to Kampar. Some other tourist attractions will also be prepared, such as the Tepian Mahligai, Sungai Hijau, Gulamo River and the park under the Bangkinang Bridge, the Puncak Kompe, and the Jering Bay.
"We will also make halal hub as a place for MSMEs to market their products," Kamsol said. According to Kamsol, the Pekanbaru-Bangkinang toll road is able to overcome traffic problems, such as traffic jams due to trucks and buses. "In the past, people were a bit reluctant to come to Kampar because of traffic jams. However, I am sure that after the toll road becomes operational, the visit will be smoother," said Kamsol.
Chairman of the Riau chapter of the Indonesian Employers' Association (Apindo) Wijatmoko Rah Trisno said the toll road would indeed create a point of new economic growth in the places that are passed by. Wijatmoko asked the government to try as hard as it can so that MSMEs get a place of business at the toll road rest areas.
While the construction of the Pekanbaru-Dumai toll road opens many opportunities for labor for the surrounding communities, the involvement of local entrepreneurs is still lacking. Not all facilities on the toll road can accommodate MSMEs.
The construction must follow the rules, which is that in every 30 kilometers there must be at least one rest area.
Director of the Pekanbaru-Bangkinang toll project PT Hutama, Karya Bambang Eko, explained the construction of toll roads always involved the local community, including providing a business space for them at the toll road rest areas. "The construction must follow the rules, which is that in every 30 kilometers there must be at least one rest area," he said.
At the inauguration of the Pekanbaru-Bangkinang toll road, President Jokowi hoped that the existence of this toll road could increase community mobility by transporting people, services and goods. That way, the competitiveness of products from Kampar and Riau will emerge. This toll road is also expected to create new economic centers that create jobs and improve the welfare of the community.