I'm driving up the eastern coast of Aceh now, part of a three-car convoy that started out in Medan. We're travelling with a delegation from the European Union, the main contributor to the Multi Donor Fund for Aceh and Nias (MDF), my main client.Our first stop was the Port of Langsa. It was built to encourage
trade with Malaysia, which is just across the Strait of Malacca. Right now, most goods coming to and from Aceh are shipped from the port in Medan. I don't know the economics, but I understand why the Acehnese would like the idea of shipping through their own ports.
But the port sits empty, a vast concrete slab which would be perfect for skateboarding or teaching kids to ride bikes. The reason? The government hasn't set up a customs office yet. So the port sits there, empty, except for a police boat and a few snack vendors waiting for the rain to stop.
I hope the port opens and gets busy, and that there's enough business to keep it going. If not, they can always try skateboarding.