The Ampera Bridge is a vertical lift bridge in Palembang that connects Seberang Ulu and Seberang Ilir which lie separated by the Musi River. The bridge stands with a length of 224 meters and a span of 61 meters with a 9-meter clearance beneath it. The bridge was built in efforts to make something as grand as the Tower Bridge in London. Ships can no longer pass from under the bridge as it was officially declared in 1970 that the bridge would not open anymore, a major reason for this being an inconvenient disruption of the traffic flowing from the two regions it connects because the mere operation of the bridge’s large wings would take about half an hour.
During the time the bridge could be opened, it would rise up at a speed of 10 meters per minute for ships of a maximum height of 44.5 meters to pass underneath the bridge. The bridge also had ballast weights in place to balance it, but they were removed in 1990 to prevent foreseeable accidents.
Apart from the disruption in traffic flow, the bridge was also made dysfunctional because of the dicey foundation of the bridge which was laid on soft mud, and as the years passed by the bridge got so deformed that it could no longer be opened, besides, large ships could no longer pass easily because of the silting of the river.
The Ampera Bridge was inaugurated in 1965 on the 30th of September by the Minister/Commander of the Army at the time, Lieutenant General Ahmad Yani. The date also holds significance as the Lieutenant General was killed by the troops of the 30th September Movement, a couple of hours after the bridge was opened to the public.
The bridge has also undergone a lot of changes. Initially, the colour of the bridge was grey which was then changed to yellow in 1992 and further changed to red in 2002 when Megawati was the president of Indonesia. The bridge was also called the Bung Karno Bridge, in honour of the president but was renamed to the Ampera Bridge after his fall.
The Ampera Bridge was funded by the Japanese war reparations with the Fuji Car Manufacturing Co. Ltd. as the company responsible for the designing and construction of the bridge under the first president of Indonesia. The bridge was initially named after the president, known as the Bung Karno Bridge, but after his tenure ended, the bridge was renamed to Ampera Bridge. The structure is also historically significant as at the time, Fuji Car Manufacturing Co. Ltd. had no bridge-building experience and it was the first bridge of its kind to be built in Indonesia.