July 18, 2018

Massive fire rips through Bali port

A massive fire laid waste to dozens of boats at a Bali port on Monday (July 9) as firefighters battled to bring the dramatic blaze under control. The fire started around after midnight on the Indonesian holiday island and quickly engulfed nearly 40 local vessels but no injuries were reported, police said. “So far there are no casualties,” Bali police spokesman Hengky Widjaja said. Images from Benoa port, which sits next to the popular tourist hub of Kuta, showed flames shooting into the night sky and huge plumes of black smoke. [Channel News Asia July 10, 2018]


‘Chaotic parking system’ compounding factor in devastating Bali harbor fire, police deepen investigation into cause

The raging fire at Bali’s Benoa Harbor burning tens of ships was declared “extinguished” yesterday afternoon, but the flames unfortunately came rip-roaring back that same evening. The effort to fully put the fire to rest is such a struggle because the burning vessels are made of fiberglass and the presence of diesel in the burning ships isn’t exactly making things easier, says Bali Police Chief Insp. Gen. Petrus Golose. “Every ship is filled with diesel fuel, so it’s very difficult to extinguish (the fire),” Golose said on Monday, as quoted by Detik. As of Tuesday morning, a total of 40 fishing boats in the South Denpasar harbor have caught fire and the flames persist.

Compounding the fact that the boats are highly flammable is the chaotic parking system at the port, according to Bali Police. There is not a good safety system in place at the harbor for parking, they told reporters yesterday. Many boats parked at the harbor are not “active” and are simply anchored in Benoa, head of Benoa Port Operations Head Dwi Yanto. There are so many because of heavy fishing regulations, he explained. “So these boats fall under a moratorium under fisheries regulations,” Yanto said Monday afternoon, as quoted by Tribun Bali. Ideally, according to SOP, the boats should not be parked three in one line, but for some of them, crew have not yet returned home from the Lebaran holiday yet so the boats have not been operating as usual.

Of the 40 vessels reportedly burned, only around 10-15 of them were active, Yanto said. He also said that the port is actually overrun and does not have the capacity to accommodate the current number of ships docked there. And of the burned boats, all are just from three companies, with PT Banjar Nelayan suffering the biggest losses, he added. Traffic is being directed to the western corner of the harbor so as not to disrupt the flow of the rest of the port. Water Police say they will conduct training with representatives from the fishing companies at the port to teach them how to better deal with fires in the future.

While police are still investigating the cause of the massive fire, which first broke out on Monday morning around 2am, they suspect the fire emerged as a result of a short circuit on one of the fishing boats. Losses from this fire are estimated to amount to hundreds of billions of rupiah. This is not Benoa’s first fire in recent time. There was one in January 2017, though it was not nearly as destructive. [Coconuts Bali July 11, 2018]


Rare Sumatran tiger triplets born at Bali Zoo

Three Sumatran tiger triplets were born at the Bali Zoo on Tuesday evening. Not only are the cubs absolutely adorable, but their birth is a big deal in species conservation, marking the first case of successful breeding of the critically endangered feline on the Indonesian island. The cub trio, two males and one female, entered the world at 5pm yesterday, according to a spokesperson from the zoo. The triplets are the first generation of successful breeding from parents, five-year-old Sean and three-year-old Pandeka.

The tigers were all born healthy, as concluded by a team from the Bali Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) Bali and Gianyar Regency Conservation Team II. The cubs were given a general check-up, their first round of vaccinations, and were microchipped. The triplets will be under intensive monitoring and care from a team of vets at the Bali Zoo. With the addition of these new tiger kiddos to their parents, there is now a total of five Sumatran tigers at the Bali Zoo. “The birth of these three Sumatran tiger cubs shows the success of the Bali Zoo as a conservation institution in the endeavor of preserving endangered species, since according to data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are only 400 Sumatran tigers still alive in Indonesia,” Bali Post quoted the zoo’s spokesperson as saying. [Coconuts Bali July 4, 2018]


Once-secret Balinese reefbreak now off limits to the public

Surfers have been banned from accessing the ultra-consistent, world-class reefbreak at Serangan, on Bali’s East Coast, pending a large-scale development project at the site. It joins a long list of waves under threat from rampant tourism development on the island. “The investors have closed off the land to all surfers,” confirmed Curtis Lowe, project manager at Project Clean Uluwatu. “Local fishermen can still squeak around, but they have security, and the warungs have been bulldozed and taken out.” Another long term expat and business owner confirmed that the gate at the entrance to Serangan had been “locked for infrastructure work,” pending the large-scale construction project. It’s unclear what shape the development at Serangan will take. Surfline’s request for comment from the developer went unanswered, but according to the company’s website the area is set to “become a Balinese model of village tourism.”

“The coastal community has both the ecological and the sociocultural potentials to become a lucrative tourist destination in an environment where tourism flourishes,” the website of the Singapore-based developer, Giti Group, revealed, amidst videos depicting a 500-hectare “eco-development” set to take up the entire island, comprised of nature parks, a harbor packed with luxury yachts, numerous luxury villas, and a high-tech auditorium featuring traditional Balinese dancers. What price range the new resort will fall into remains unclear, but if the latest trend in development is any indication it will not be aimed at the budget surf travelers that have historically made the pilgrimage to Bali. “Right now, they want masses of buses full of Chinese,” said Balinese pro surfer, Marlon Gerber. “Like Pandawa Beach (the site of another large-scale development near Nusa Dua), they want all the beaches like that because it brings in a lot of cash. And at Nyang Nyang (near Uluwatu), this beautiful limestone cliff has been carved out, with roads going down there to target those busloads of people.”

With its ability to hold anything from two to 12 feet of swell, Serangan is one of the most consistent waves on the island, popular with everyone from beginners to pros. The warungs on the beach, meanwhile, enjoy a roaring trade, serving coconut, fresh fish and various other local and international dishes in what was one of the last places one could enjoy an authentic Balinese surfing experience. “This is just the beginning, dude,” Marlon Gerber finished, noting the business interests at play in the region. “There are so many places that can be done this way. The wave is not their priority. They don’t even realize they’re affecting this wave. They’re just thinking people, mass tourism and money.” [Surfline July 10, 2018]


Jetty project feared by surfers to wreck famous Canggu wave was ‘misunderstanding’, says village head

Talk of a jetty being built in Bali’s Canggu that had hundreds of surfers and local community members protesting one week ago was all centered on a big “misunderstanding”, says a traditional village head. Fears shot through the community that a construction project at Pererenan Beach would produce a jetty, that once finished would completely destroy Canggu’s legendary Echo Beach wave as we know it, just hundreds of meters away. News of a paddle out protest on July 2 quickly spread, along with a memo from Persatuan Selancar Ombak Indonesia (PSOI), calling on all board-riders and concerned community members to ‘save the wave’ of Echo Beach in danger of demolition. “It was only a misunderstanding. They suspected this project would damage the waves. Yet the precise point of this project, of Badung Regency, was to manage the beach to be better, Pererenan Village Head I Made Rai Yasa told Nusa Bali on Friday. The project, fully funded by Badung Regency and managed by their Public Works Department (PUPR) is to build an erosion embankment at the beach, not a jetty, claims Yasa.

Head of Badung PUPR Ida Bagus Surya Suamba says things spun out of control with so much “misinformation” circulating in the community, questioning the project. The construction is for a coastal arrangement project to build a revetment (the erosion embankment) to prevent further erosion, not to build a dock. Along with the revetment would also be an access bridge, or walkway and kiosks for local vendors, says Suamba. “There is also the structuring of the river, the construction of an access bridge, and the arrangement of merchants by building kiosks. So there is no construction of a jetty that will damage the wave, as alleged by some parties,” Suamba said. “What is clear is that this project will organize Pererenan Beach for the better,” he added. Full management of the kiosks will be handed over to the desa adat, the traditional village authorities. The project was won in an auction by construction company PT Gala Tama, with a bid of IDR10,334,938,254 (US$721k). But the thing that has many scratching their heads over the whole controversy is a rendering of the project that went viral at the time of the protest, showing plans for yes, a revetment and walkway, but also a jetty, very clearly marked out. While it’s dubious that there never really was a plan for a jetty and the idea has been to only build a revetment and walkway this whole time, Badung Regency has not responded to any of Coconuts Bali’s requests for contact, so we can’t say for sure. [Coconuts Bali July 9, 2018]


Residents along rivers warned after Mt. Agung eruption

Authorities have issued warnings to residents living along rivers that flow from Mount Agung in Bali, as well as residents living around the volcano, to be more careful in the wake of the latest eruption, which occurred on Monday morning. According to Bali Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD Bali), Mt. Agung erupted on Monday at 11:20 a.m. local time. During the eruption that lasted for over two minutes, the volcano spewed a 2,000-meter-high ash column and thick smoke into the sky that later headed westward. “Residents residing and conducting activities along rivers that flow from Mt. Agung should watch out for the threat of volcanic mudflows, which can occur during rain if the volcanic material is still present on the peak around the volcano,” the agency warned in a statement. BPBD Bali also warned residents as well as tourists to avoid climbing the mountain or being within a 4-kilometer radius of the top of Mt. Agung. The danger zone, the agency added, could change from time to time according to conditions on the mountain. [The Jakarta Post July 9, 2018]


7 arrested in Chiba for collecting money under pretext of ‘land investments’ in Bali

Seven Japanese nationals who illegally solicited money from Japanese clients under the pretext of investing in real estate in Bali, Indonesia, and other products were arrested on July 4 by a joint investigative team comprising members of the Chiba District Public Prosecutors Office and the Chiba Prefectural Police. According to investigative sources, the suspects urged clients to invest in land in Bali and to open up foreign currency fixed deposit accounts at banks under the Asuna Group umbrella for several years leading up to around January 2018, even though they did not have legal permission to do so. They are suspected to have convinced over 100 men and women to invest over 1 billion yen in total. [Mainichi Japan July 4, 2018]


Bali Skies Alive with Color as Hundreds Attend Island Kite Festival

The skies over Bali’s beach resort Sanur were a riot of color   during the annual kite festival on the Indonesian island on Sunday. Held on farmland near the beach on the tourist island’s southeast coast, the festival attracted hundreds of people over the weekend. Groups of competing revelers in team uniforms from all age groups made their own traditional kites – some small, and some many meters long. Many of the kites were made in colors representing incarnations of Hindu deities Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The annual festival is a popular tourist attraction. Bali is a predominantly Hindu island in Indonesia, which is home to the world’s largest Muslim population. [Latin American Herald Tribune July 10, 2018]