Benoa Bay reclamation scrapped, says Bali Governor-elect 

Bali governor-elect I Wayan Koster said the reclamation of Benoa Bay would be canceled and the area would be turned into a mangrove forest instead. “We will take strict action against all parties that proved to have committed illegal actions in the area, which resulted in the destruction of the mangrove forest,” he said on Friday, August 24. Koster explained the mangrove planting would take place after he took office, and that the official policy to cancel the reclamation would be issued in September 2018. He also assured that the conservation plans were different from the initial revitalization plans in the Benoa Bay area.

Koster added Benoa Bay would remain a green zone. “So the barren areas would be reorganized,” he said. Koster went on to say that he would issue an official policy after he was installed governor on September 17, 2018, to make sure the reclamation would not proceed. He also said he would send a letter to the central government on the policy. Koster said the policy would be sufficient to stop the reclamation, even without the annulment of the Presidential Regulation No. 51/2014. According to Koster, the presidential regulation did not only affect the reclamation of Benoa Bay, but also several areas in Indonesia. He said a gubernatorial regulation was ample to put a halt to the planned reclamation. “I think it does not take a president [to stop the reclamation]. A governor is enough,” he said. [Tempo August 24, 2018].


Tourists trickle back over to Lombok’s Gili islands after earthquake devastation, evacuation

Tourists are starting to flow back to the Gilis, a cluster of three small idyllic white-sand islands, off of North Lombok, popular with holiday-makers. The three islands were heavily impacted by the earthquakes striking Lombok over the past month. The level of destruction along with anxiety if a tsunami were to occur, prompted an almost-full evacuation of Gili Air, Gili Meno, and the most frequented of the three, Gili Trawangan. “People have returned to the Gilis. Even property owners, who are mostly foreigners have started to come back,” Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi said from Lombok’s Pemenang Port on Sunday, as quoted by Detik. The islands, where the economy revolves around tourism, can be accessed via boat from Bali or mainland Lombok. In recent days, tourists have been arriving via fast boat from Bali to get to the Gilis, chairman of the Gili Trawangan Employers Association (APGT) Acok Zani Bassok told Radar Lombok on Tuesday. Only about 600 tourists have been coming in per day, which is not much compared to the average of 2,500 daily arrivals that Gili usually experiences at peak season moments like the month of August and the end of the year, according to Bassok.

The West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) Tourism Office from the provincial government says it has been working on repairing damaged facilities like roads and docks to prepare for the arrival of more tourists. There were 1,400 tourists visiting Gili Trawangan as of Tuesday, NTB Tourism Office head, Lalu Faozal told VIVA on Wednesday. However, maintenance done by the government has not been the only rebuilding effort in the Gilis. Business owners and local residents have joined forces to restore the island back to its tourism-friendly conditions, cleaning up debris from wrecked buildings, CNN Indonesia reports. “This cleaning is indeed our united initiative (amongst locally-based entrepreneurs) to revive the atmosphere,” CNN quoted Baso, an accommodation and restaurant owner on Gili Trawangan, as saying.

To speed the cleaning and clearing process up, business owners and residents have rented excavators and trucks. “We quickly rented two excavators and two trucks. If we waited for help from the government, it would take long until we’re finished,” he said. “We have prioritized the coastal area first,” he explained. Baso says his community is aiming for the Gilis to be optimal for visitors by Sept. 1, when there will be a welcoming event. “Because of the momentum, in the beginning of September, with the fast board route from Bali to Trawangan having opened again, we have made an initiative to prepare a welcoming event. Creating a more lively atmosphere. Come visit,” he said. [Coconuts Bali August 30, 2018].


Port of Benoa: deeper and wider

Beritabali.com reports that the Port of Benoa in South Bali is undergoing a massive redevelopment that will increase the size of the actual port and allow the berthing of large ocean-going cruise ships that will be made possible by extensive dredging, the deepening of ships’ channels, and the lengthening of the eastern shipping berth.  Officials in charge of the port are targeting that the revamped port will be able to handle 160 cruise ships in 2019. The CEO of Pelindo III in Bali, I Wayan Eka Saputra, said on August 31, 2018, “Now through the end of this year (2018) 80 cruise ships will berth in Benoa. After the dredging is finished and ships’ channels are deepened we hope to double current capacity to 160 cruise ships.”

In the past, the Mean Low Water Spring (MLWS) or the low water heights occurring at the time of spring tides was 9-meters. Following port improvements, the MLWS at the Port of Benoa will become 12-meters. The dredging and channel deepening work has been completed at the port with final certification by an international maritime agency the only remaining step before large ships are given a green light to visit the Port. The dredging in front of the eastern pier and turning basin commenced in April 2018 and now allows ships carrying 3,352 passengers to disembark directly from ship to shore. [www.balidiscovery.com September 2, 2018].


Government unable to offer financial support for sick mum’s return from Bali

The government is unable to help fund the medical evacuation of a Kiwi mother fighting for her life in Bali to New Zealand. Abby Hartley, 41, was rushed into hospital at the beginning of August after falling ill while on her ‘second honeymoon’ in Bali with husband Richard. After emergency surgery to remove a section of her bowel, her health took a turn for the worst and she developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), several infections, a collapsed lung and kidney failure. She is now in an induced coma, and her family have set up a Givealittle to raise the costs of an emergency medical evacuation and pay for her enormous hospital bills.

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said he understood that Ms Hartley is in a very challenging situation, but the Government could not offer financial support. “I have to confirm that the New Zealand Government is unable to fund the costs of medical care of evacuations for New Zealanders who become ill while overseas,” Mr Peters told NZME. He said that they should talk to their insurers and could get assistance from the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta. “I wish Abby well with her recovery, and hope she is well enough to return to New Zealand soon,” he said.

Abby is severely oxygen deprived, meaning she will have some brain damage – but the extent of this won’t be known until she wakes up, her daughter Sophie wrote on the Givealittle page. Sophie returned to New Zealand on August 17 to continue running the family tiling business, but her father Richard and 16-year-old brother Toby remain in Bali. Her father’s visa runs out on September 1, which he will have to renew in order to stay in Indonesia. [News Hub September 4, 2018].


China’s tourism boom prompts fears that Bali is being ‘sold cheap’

Australians have flocked to Bali for decades, drawn by the luxurious accommodation, cheap food and beer and the distinctive cultural experience. Many feel something approaching a sense of ownership of the idyllic island. But we are far from the only people who enjoy Bali’s charms, and the type of tourists travelling to Bali is changing rapidly. The emergence of so-called “zero-dollar” Chinese tourism is beginning to reshape the market in Bali, and local tourist groups, as well as the Chinese consul on the island, are concerned that dodgy operators and business practices are cutting locals out of a share of the profits from shopping, while also risking the safety of Chinese visitors. According to statistics from the Bali Tourism Promotion Board, Australia is no longer the number one source for tourists to Bali. For the first time, that honour now belongs to China. In 2017, 1.09 million Aussies visited Bali, down from 1.14 million in 2016. In the same period, the number of Chinese visitors leapt from 987,000 to 1.39 million. [Sydney Morning Herald August 26, 2018]


Bali Ngurah Rai underpass ‘99 percent’ completed

The grand road works project that is designed to alleviate congestion in South Bali is very nearly finished and we sure can’t wait ’til its ribbon-cutting, since traffic in the island’s south has been even more of a headache-and-a-half since it began. Just the final fixings like some signs and decorative lights on the underpass being built in front of Bali’s international airport remain. The Tugu Ngurah Rai underpass is 99 percent, according to Nyoman Yasmara, “Commitment Enforcing Officer” (PPK) of the National Road Implementation Committee VIII. “Only the final touches are left for finishing ornamentation aspects like water, landscaping, and mechanical and electrical storage,” Yasmara told Tribun Bali on Tuesday. A look at the project site shows Balinese carvings have been installed, giving the underpass a cultural and artistic look. A trial period for the underpass is meant to be carried out in the early days of September 2018. But an inauguration date for the underpass has not yet been confirmed. “We do not know when, we have not yet received instructions from above,” Yasmara explained. However, we do know it’ll be in use before the big IMF-World Bank meeting in early October, where Bali will be flooded by 15,000 delegates. The government has made it clear that the underpass is one of their key urban development projects to be completed before the meeting. [Coconuts Bali August 29, 2018]


Indonesia tightens security ahead of IMF-WB meeting

Police in Bali island of Indonesia have tightened security against infiltration of terrorists to the island, where the next annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) will take place in October this year. “Bali police have set up a task force to detect possible infiltration of terrorists backed up by the police’s anti terror squad (Densus 88),” Bali police chief spokesman Henky Widjaja said. Henky said Bali police chief Ins. Gen. Petrus R. Golose has passed an order to act firmly by shooting terrorists on the spot if necessary.

He said police are busy not only in Bali, but all over the country to track down suspected terrorists through a series of anti-terrorist and anti-criminality operations. Indonesia’s military regularly hold security simulation ahead of the IMF-WB meeting every week, while security officers and liaison officers have been made ready for the security of the delegations to the big meeting, he said. Between 12,000 to 15,000 people are expected to attend the annual meeting, including about 3,500 delegates from 189 member countries, roughly 1,000 media representatives, and more than 5,000                 participants representing the private sector, the banking community, academic institutions, civil society organizations, and also observers and parliamentarians. Indonesia hopes to gain great benefits from hosting the meeting, which can help promote the island country’s economic growth and attract more tourists. [Vietnam Plus September 3, 2018]


Cracks appear on Dewa Ruci statue in Bali following spate of recent earthquakes in Lombok

Cracks in the Dewa Ruci Statue in Kuta are being linked to a 6.9 magnitude earthquake that struck nearby Lombok Island on Sunday, August 19th. NusaBali reports that cracks and small fissures had begun to develop on the statue following an earlier Lombok earthquake of 7.0 magnitude on Sunday, August 5, 2018, made worse by the subsequent earthquake two weeks later. The most obvious cracks can be seen on the statues right shoulder and head.

The Badung Regency Public Parks Department have assigned a special team to assess the overall condition of the statue and outline what steps are needed to repair the statues and ensure its structural integrity. Officials say the cracks on the statue are connected to recent earthquakes and the persistent vibration of passing traffic. [www.balidiscovery.com August 27, 2018]