Ampera Bridge is a Vertical-lift bridge in the city of Palembang, South Sumatera, Indonesia, which is the landmark of the city. It connects Seberang Ulu and Seberang Ilir, two regions of Palembang. It can no longer be opened to allow ships to pass.
The bridge was planned during the era of Indonesia’s first president, who wanted a bridge that could open and be a match for London’s Tower Bridge. The funds for the construction came from Japanese war reparations, with the Fuji Car Manufacturing Co. Ltd being given responsibility for design and construction. However, at the time, Japan had no bridges of this type, and Fuji Car had no bridge-building experience. The official opening was carried out by Minister/Commander of the Army Lieutenant General on 30 September Ahmad Yani 1965, only hours before he was killed by troops belonging to the 30 September Movement. At first, the bridge was known as the Bung Karno Bridge, after the president, but following his fall, it was renamed the Ampera Bridge (Amanat Penderitaan Rakyat = the mandate of the people’s suffering).
For a few years after it was opened, the center span could be lifted at 10 meters per second to allow ships of up to 44.5m in height to pass underneath. However this only occurred a few times, and after 1970 it could no longer be opened. The official reason for this was that the 30 minutes needed to raise the bridge was causing unacceptable delays, and that in any case silting of the river had made it impassable for large ships. However, according to architect Wiratman, who acted as a consultant before the construction, the design of the bridge was flawed from the outset because of the soft mud on which it was built. He maintains that his concerns were ignored for political reasons, and that as the towers’ foundations shifted, the bridge deformed to the extent that it could no longer be opened. The ballast weights needed to balance the wight of the bridge were removed in 1990 to prevent possible accidents were they to fall.