At least 15 accidents have occurred less than two weeks after a toll road stretching 116 kilometres linking Cikopo and Palimanan was opened to motorists. Three people have been killed and several others injured.
President Joko Widodo officially opened the Cipali toll road on June 13 to allow millions of people who are returning to their home towns for the Eid al-Fitr holiday to use it and reduce maddening traffic jams along the Northern Coast (Pantai Utara) route.
More than two million revelers are expected to use the Cipali toll road during the annual exodus known as “mudik” starting about a week before Eid al-Fitr, which falls on July 17 this year.
Authorities are looking into possible causes of the accidents, including whether they had something to do with construction, or were caused by reckless driving.
“The police, the Public Works and Housing Ministry and the local transportation agency in Purwakarta are investigating the accidents,” police chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti was quoted as saying by local media.
Some transportation experts said poor lighting and lack of speed bumps on the longest toll road in Indonesia may have caused some of the accidents, as motorists tend to drive in high speed.
Others say the long stretch of asphalt and concrete-paved road as well as the low-frequency sounds from car tyres cause the drivers to feel drowsy.
The Cipali toll road cost of Rp 13.7 trillion (about US$1.03 billion) to build, with construction started in 2011.
With the new toll road connecting the existing Jakarta-Cikampek and Palimanan-Brebes highways, travellers will now be able to cut travel time from Jakarta to Brebes to just four hours.
Motorists will have to spend Rp. 146,500 to use toll roads all the way from Jakarta to Pejagan in Brebes regency.
The Cipali toll road has seven gates and eight rest areas to cater for the needs of motorists during their long journey.
It is divided into six sections, namely Cikopo–Kalijati (29.12 km), Kalijati–Subang (9.56 km), Subang–Cikedung (31.37 km), Cikedung–Kertajati (17.66 km), Kertajati–Sumberjaya (14.51 km) and Sumberjaya–Palimanan (13.78 km).
The Cipali toll road is part of the Trans-Java network, which consists of 22 toll road projects and is expected to help boost economic growth on Java island, where almost 50 percent of Indonesia’s economic activity is centred.
The Cipali toll road construction experienced delays due to problems in securing land- which have become a major impediment to the country’s efforts to boost its creaky infrastructure.
Failure to agree on compensation with landowners has hobbled infrastructure projects in the past as creditors refused to disburse funding.