Barelang Bridge

 

A trip to the tourist and industrial island of Batam in the Riau Island Province is  not considered complete without visiting its most prominent icon: the Barelang Bridge.

Situated some 35km from the heart of Batam City, the bridge is an architectural marvel  that connects Batam Island with several small islands to its south, namely  Tonton, Nipah,Sekotok,  Rempang, Galang and Galang Baru (which, together are also known as the Barelang Islands area). Therefore,  the name Barelang itself is a short form  derived from the three major islands of  Batam, Rempang, and Galang.

Barelang Bridge itself is actually a system that consists of 6 bridges and connecting roads which together  stretch across the total area of Barelang islands region of approximately 715 km square. The  spans of all 6 bridges together cover 2 kilometers, while the actual distance covered from the first bridge to the last is about 50km. Reflecting the Riau-Malay Culture, the bridges are officially named after rulers of the Riau Sultanate from the  fifteenth to the  eighteenth-century rulers.

The Barelang Bridge project was initiated by B.J Habibie. Indonesia's 3rd  President,  who was Minister of Research and Technology and Chief Executive of Batam Authority at the time.

The concept designs for the 6 bridges were proposed by Bruce Ramsay of VSL (Vorspann System Losinger) on  request of Habibie that the design should be based on variation of different structural bridge types, in order to introduce  and develop new bridge designs and  building technologies for Indonesia. Over time,the Barelang Bridge has actually grown into a tourist attraction, rather than simply a transport road.

The first and main Bridge is officially called the Tengku Fisabililah Bridge, but this bridge is more familiarly known simply as the Barelang Bridge or the  Habibie Bridge (after B.J Habibie). The bridge connects the island of Batam with the small island of Tonton.

Similar to  the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransico, USA, this picturesque bridge is the longest and biggest among the entire system. Spanning  642 meters, this is a cable-stayed bridge, supported by and decorated with two towering 199m high pylons.

Overlooking the open seas dotted with several small islands, the bridge provides the perfect setting for some of the most outstanding pictures. Complemented with a platform offering the best angle of the bridge, taking a picture here for tourists is obligatory, since it will  provide solid proof that one has indeed visited Batam.

The 2nd bridge connecting the islands of Tonton and Nipah is called Nara Singa Bridge and is a cantilever bridge with total length of 420m. The 3rd Bridge is a girder bridge that stretches about 270m, called Ali Haji Bridge which connects the island of Nipah with Sekotok. The 4th Bridge is the Sultan Zainal Abidin Bridgeconnecting the islands of Sekotok and Rempang,  which is a 365m long cantilever bridge.

On Rempang Island, there is the Melayu Beach which offers panoramic sceneries and relaxing ambience and is frequently visited by both locals and tourists. The 5thBridge is a 385m long Arch Bridge called Tuanku Tambusai Bridge. The bridge connects Rempang Island with Galang Island, site of the former Vietnamese Refugee Camp. The 6th and last bridge is also the smallest with a total length of 180m. Called the Raja Kecik Bridge, it connects Galang Island with Galang Baru Island.

Get There

The Bridge is situated some 35Km southeast from the heart of Batam City. A trip to Barelang Bridge from the center of Batam City will take a little over an hour, depending on traffic conditions. Considering that there are not many public transport available in the city, it is best to take the taxi, rent a car or use transportation services from the hotel you are staying. There is a parking lot  available near the area,  so you do not need to worry about parking on roadsides.

To Eat

Another thing Barelang is associated with is its Seafood. Around the bridge area  are a number of restaurants offering all sorts of freshly caught sea food such as various fish, lobsters, prawns, squids, clams, crabs, and plenty others. Customers can see and choose for themselves the fresh sea caught in live before they are cooked.

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