Interview: Tri Rismaharini
What are some of the most important infrastructure projects in Surabaya currently?
TRI RISMAHARINI: One of our main priorities since we took office in 2010 has been to build as many roads as possible across Surabaya. The goal has been to create a grid of avenues and streets around the city, making sure Surabaya’s port in the north remains well connected to the airport in the south. In this regard, we have built 337 km of roads in total, including six new north-south and five new east-west linkages. We are also trying to connect new roads to the toll highway, which connects us to Jakarta, and use it as a peripheral highway. All of our new roads are expected to be finished by 2019, and will help alleviate traffic congestion. Another project we are working on is the mass rapid transit (MRT) system, for which we are still waiting for permits and provisions to continue the bidding process.
How is the city government encouraging the public-private partnership (PPP) model?
RISMAHARINI: We are very much open to foreign direct investment and PPPs as a means of financing new projects in the city. However, efforts to attract private investors cannot come from the municipality alone. Public infrastructure investments are often coordinated by the federal government and we have no influence on that. So far we have been able to finance our developments through the local budget, securing full autonomy and efficiency on delivery. Additionally, we have been promoting investments in residential, commercial and industrial projects in the vicinity of the new roads and avenues that have been built.
Most PPP investments, however, come from private companies, especially with road projects. For the time being, public money in PPP models has been largely used for waste management. The city government works together with a private partner to manage the city’s final disposal site by processing the waste and using it as the energy source for the power plant. We also plan to use PPPs to develop our public transportation system, particularly for the MRT project.
What would you characterise as the most promising industries for investment?
RISMAHARINI: Surabaya has traditionally been an industrial hub, and that remains the core of our economic development. Yet the trade and services sector is growing the fastest, making it currently the most important and most promising sector for Surabaya. This is largely the result of the city’s identity as a gateway to the east. There are 32 domestic shipping routes to and from Surabaya, which is significantly higher than the Port of Tanjung Priok in Jakarta, which only has 20 domestic shipping routes. There are also 11 shipping companies with headquarters located here.
The future development of the city and surrounding regions will be largely influenced by the operations and performance of Lamong Bay Terminal in the northwest. The ongoing development of the outer west and outer east ring roads is mostly intended to facilitate this new port. At the same time, tourism and hospitality have increased by more than 80% since 2012. Retail and commerce are also growing, while ICT companies and services are expanding in the city.
Overall, Surabaya is expanding and gradually diversifying. The last sector the city’s government is heavily focusing on is education. When we began our term in office we pushed for policies and incentives to reduce the high school dropout rate by initiating scholarship schemes for vocational and technical degrees.
As of now, we are investing heavily in training and developing human talent in tourism and hospitality, as we have identified those sectors to be crucial drivers of Surabaya’s growth and progress. Additional investments in training schools and institutions of higher learning should contribute to the enhancement of human resources. After all, our city hosts some of the nation’s most prestigious schools and universities.
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