"The contractors' expertise is not just related to their ability to lobby district heads, governors, or those from public works offices," Kalla told attendees of the Indonesian Builders Association's (Gapensi's) national congress in Jakarta on Thursday.
The vice president stated that the builders' expertise was also related to their professional efforts. "If you are a professional, you will be sought by the people who need you. It is not you who seek for the projects," Kalla noted.
Lobbying the authorities for gaining construction projects was commonly done by those running construction companies. However, Kalla warned them not to get so busy with the lobby that they neglect the quality of their professional works.
"If you just focus on lobbying, your will run out of money for the lobby. If your profession, as contractors, is merely used as a leap for moving to another direction, the situation will be like today in which big construction companies will be limited and they are dominated by those owned by the state," he remarked.
Hence, Kalla called on the Indonesian builders to handle infrastructure projects in the country professionally and emphasize on the quality of buildings for the sake of the people at large.
As a player in construction sector, Kalla added that he always pays serious attention to the quality, financing, and timing in working on infrastructure projects.
"The quality of works must be good. The timing must be precise, and financing must be efficient. These should be parts of priorities. Without these three elements, it is so hard for us to achieve a sound progress and self-reliance and to bring positive impact on the people at large," he added.
Under the Joko Widodo-Jusuf Kalla administration, infrastructure is perceived as this government's strength. Infrastructure does seem to hold special significance for incumbent President Joko Widodo since the length of toll roads, for instance, has been extended remarkably under his leadership.
As revealed by Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono, within four years of the Widodo- Kalla administration, a total of 941 kilometers of toll roads and 3,423 kilometers of national roads had been constructed.
The Trans-Java Highway, connecting the ferry port in Merak, Banten Province, to Surabaya, capital city of East Java Province, had also been completed, thereby cutting short the travel time and reducing the current logistics costs.
As part of the central government's prioritized development projects, the toll roads are not merely constructed in Java, but they are also built outside the island, such as Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Sulawesi.
In Sumatra Island, the earlier government's idea of constructing the toll roads connecting the ferry port in Bakauheni, Lampung Province, to cities in Aceh Province, has also been realized during the term of the Widodo-Kalla administration.
Currently, as noted by the Public Works and Housing Ministry, work on the Banda Aceh-Sigli toll road section has begun, and this 74-kilometer-long toll road, which is one of the sections of the Trans-Sumatra Toll Road, is targeted for completion in 2024.
Reporting by Fransiska Ninditya, Rahmad Nasution