Kutai Kartanegara Bridge Fell Down, My Fair Lady

The Mahakam II bridge, also known as the Kutai Kartanegara bridge, connecting Tenggarong and Tenggarong Seberang districs in Kutai Kartanegara collapsed on Saturday (26/11/2011).

This is the picture of the bridge, before and after.

The bridge was constructed from 1995 to 2001 by State-Owned Corporation PT Hutama Karya. In the course of 10 years (an awfully short time for a bridge’s lifetime), I am sure that somehow, someone would saw the coming of the collapse of Indonesia’s longest suspension bridge (710 meter long, 9 meter wide, with 270 meter in height).

In February 2010, Kaltim Post reported that there is a shift in the bridge, but predicted that a collapse is unlikely. The Kutai Kartanegara Bupati, Rita Widyasari, have instructed the head of the Kutai Kartanegara Public Works agency to follow up with the report. Each year, the Kutai Kartanegara Public Works agency proposes a budget for the maintenance of the bridge.

After the collapse, which caused the death of at least three people and dozens injured, indications of corruption quickly emerged.

The regency is infamous with corruption cases, whereby the former Kutai Kartanegara Bupati Syaukani Hasan Rais, was convicted of four corruption cases involving Rp. 92.3 billion ($10.1 million) and was sentenced to six years in prison in mid-2009. As Jakarta Globe reported, the acting head of the regency, Samsuri Aspar, was also jailed for four years for corruption involving money earmarked for the poor – involving Rp. 24.7 billion and every single member of the local legislature and all of the subdistrict heads.

The incumbent Bupati, Rita Widyasari, is apparently Syaukani’s daughter. She won the local Bupati election garnering 55% of the votes with the support of Golkar in 2010. Coincidentally, earlier that year Syaukani was released from jail because of “amnesia therapy”.

With a long list of possible suspects, it will take the utmost effort to investigate how the bridge collapsed.

Whether it started from construction or maintenance, infrastructure investment in Indonesia is a long and complicated story. Corruption will only make it worse, and indeed, it not only hampers development but it has also taken the lives of innocent people.

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1 thought on “Kutai Kartanegara Bridge Fell Down, My Fair Lady”

  1. Come on, don’t be such a pessimist. Look at the bright side. Taller ships can now transit the river, unimpeded by the bridge…

    Maybe it was not corruption or sub-standard construction “standards”, but rather due to vandalism. Maybe warga setempat did to the bridge what people did to the Suramadu bridge spanning the islands of Java and Madura: they took off the bolts in order to sell them as scap metal. The cabling in a suspension bridge, I’m sure, fetches a handsome price as scrap due to its quality. Just a thought…

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