Madura island targeted for cattle farming

East Java Governor Soekarwo said his administration will develop Madura island as a cattle farming area when construction of the Suramadu bridge is completed.

"Madurese people are familiar with husbandry. So, to improve the economy in the underdeveloped island, the East Java administration plans to plot the area into cattle farms," Soekarwo said on Saturday.

By Indra Harsaputra

The number of families who receive subsidized rice in the government-sanctioned rice for the poor program increased from 470,365 families last year to 490,085 families this year.

Member of the Madura Development Council Ahmad Sucipto urged the government to consider social and cultural aspects when developing the island.

"Besides thinking of economic development and poverty eradication, the government should also consider Madurese youth who might be influenced by the opening of Suramadu bridge," Sucipto said.

He suggested the government also prioritize education, especially Islamic boarding schools, on the island.

The 5,438-meter-long Suramadu bridge, which connects Madura and Surabaya, the capital of the province, will be the longest bridge in the country. Construction of the bridge began five years ago and is set to open for operation on June 10 this year. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to officiate the bridge.

Director General of Road Supervision at the Public Works Ministry Hermanto Dardak said the bridge will be operated for a 14 day free trial following the officiation.

"During the 14-day trial, it will be free for all motorists to pass over the bridge. But not all kinds of vehicles are allowed to use the bridge. We are now deciding on qualifications for vehicles which will be allowed to pass the bridge," Hermanto told reporters after meeting the governor.

Hermanto said all motorists passing the bridge will be given tickets in an effort to measure the traffic. "The data of the traffic will be used for our technical team."

The construction of the bridge, which has cost Rp 4.5 trillion (US$428 million), is almost complete. Workers are currently laying asphalt on the approach ramp on the Madura side of the bridge and installing the last connector sections to the approach bridge on the Surabaya side.

At least 3,500 workers from Indonesia and China have been involved in the development of the bridge, which used 28,000 tons of pure steel and 600,000 tons of mixed steel.

Sumber: The Jakarta Post,

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