Another Story From Suramadu

Posted on July 3rd, 2009 at 7:19 am by Akhyari


By Bram, a GNFI contributor from Singapore

This is my first report for GNFI so please accept my apology if I made some language mistakes here.

The Suramadu Bridge, which is currently the longest bridge in Indonesia, is 5438 metres long or approx. 3.38 miles. Some say it is the longest bridge in Southeast Asia. The bridge is connecting Indonesia’s dense-populated island of Java with neighbouring Madura island, an island famous for its salt production as well as bull-racing activities. Suramadu is supposed to bring development to Madura as it is one of the least developed part of the East Java province, an irony as the island is just separated by a strait from Indonesia’s second largest city of Surabaya.

The project was given to Chinese firm with funds coming from overseas as well. A few years back, I believe it was either 2003 or 2004, one of the supporting poles collapsed and halted the project for quite sometimes. Ironically, it was a few days after then-president Megawati Soekarnoputri held a soft launching of the bridge. Sadly also, vandalism took place days after the grand opening as well.

Suramadu stands for Surabaya and Madura. The name ‘Surabaya’ believed to be derived from a fight between asuro (shark) and boyo(crocodile) whereas madumeans honey. So, does Suramadu mean shark honey or honey shark?

I went for a trip to the bridge about a week after it was opened ceremonially by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Sunday, 21 June 2009. The first three days after the grand opening, Indonesians be it from Surabaya, Madura and other parts of Indonesia headed to the bridge to have a look at the new bridge and to enjoy the free entrance. Imagine how crowded it could be!

One of the bridge’s tip is located at Surabaya’s Kenjeran district while the other tip cut through a limestone hill in Madura’s Bangkalan regent. There’s almost no mobile phone signal when you arrive on the limestone hill area.

Why is the bridge needed?

There are four regents (kabupaten) in Madura island. They are Bangkalan, Pamekasan, Sampang and Sumenep. These four regents lacked in investment compared to mainland East Java. Hopefully, through the opening of the bridge, investment could be boosted to the regions so as to reduce the development gap between mainland East Java with Madura island. The bridge will bring investments, tourists and easier access for people who wants to travel between Java and Madura. However, some criticized that Bali island and Lombok island could develop faster than Madura without connecting bridges. Perhaps Bali and Lombok do not need any at the moment.


Like many other development projects in Indonesia, the Suramadu bridge is also heavily criticized. First, the opening ceremony was held during presidential election campaign. Incumbent SBY could use the event to raise his profile for making progresses in alleviating uneven development in Indonesia. Second, the bridge could bring ferry-crossing services between the two islands into bankruptcy as people will tend to choose the bridge as the price is cheaper by about 50%. I believe there are other controversies arose as well but I can’t write all of them here.

Economic Boom

For the time being, the bridge has brought about economic boom. In Kenjeran, Surabaya, the price of land has risen sharply after the opening of the bridge. On the Madura side, “kaki lima” traders set up stalls, at the side of the road. A short-term boom for Madura.


It’s no use writing so much without giving you the real pictures of what’s happening at that time, exclusively for GNFI (and my own blog soon).

Waiting to cross the bridge

The bridge suspension

Notice how dangerous those drivers are risking their lives at the side of the road by stopping and even taking photos. Suramadu Bridge, another Indonesians pride

Welcome to Madura

The toll gate from Madura

Brams shared some nice pictures, from his own camera. Need one? Contact GNFI at [email protected]

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