President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s tour of several regions have uncovered problems of road infrastructure. Road damage demands urgent repair work.
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Incapable of enduring the effects of road damage, the residents of Habinsaran, Borbor and Nassau districts in Toba regency, North Sumatra, have to spend Rp 10,000 to Rp 50,000 per family for the cost of covering potholed roads with stones. They are tired of waiting on the fulfillment of the regional governments’ promises.
Furthermore, the roads connect a number of districts with Balige, the capital of Toba regency. The longer the damaged roads are left the way they are, the greater the trouble will be on the residents’ lives as they are unable to sell their agricultural yield.
We are also reminded of a Chinese proverb: If you wish to be wealthy, build a road first. Without maintaining roads, let alone building new road sections, we can never expect the people’s welfare to be realized.
At present, the logistic cost in Indonesia, affected by the quality of road infrastructure, is 23.3 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). The figures are higher than the logistic costs in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
The presence of President Jokowi to inspect the conditions of several road sections should ideally be imitated by regional government leaders. The President indicated that regional leaders should always ascertain the reliability of infrastructure as a manifestation of their public service. They should conduct field inspections, not only to check road development but also to capture public aspirations.
If local residents are eager to have reliable road infrastructure, the roads should be built right away. However, do not ever be half-hearted in road development. Every road-building project should not only construct roads, but also build drainage systems.
Without drainage systems, road damage will continue to occur. Why? It is because water is the biggest enemy of road infrastructure, which is even more the case with asphalted roads. If budget allocations are inadequate, building roads without a proper drainage system must be avoided and budget spending must be examined in detail in order to secure additional allocations for road development.
If we build roads, never be negligent in their maintenance either. Any negligence in maintenance can reduce the age of roads from around 10 years to 3 to 5 years. If this happens, the budget for rebuilding damaged roads is not always available; not to mention the large funds needed for road rehabilitation as a result of disasters that frequently hit the country.
In fact, we are also half-hearted in safeguarding road infrastructure. This is evident as overloaded trucks are roaming back and forth. Weight-in-motion technology enables load measurement without requiring the vehicle to come to a halt. The technology is available, but the question is: Are we ready to utilize it?