13 February 2013

The bad roads of Bali

The central government and local administration are expected to repair the national transportation route connecting Denpasar and Gilimanuk, which has caused heavy traffic jams and numerous accidents over recent years.

Gilimanuk Port is the main entry point for inter-provincial buses and commodity trucks carrying supplies and perishable items from Java to Bali, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) and East Nusa Tenggara (NTT).

The poor condition of the road has hampered the distribution of goods and services to and from the island and has, thus, hurt Bali’s status as a popular tourism destination. The distribution of goods was often hampered by two key factors: bad weather that disrupted shipping between Ketapang and Gilimanuk, and the road between Gilimanuk and Denpasar.

The Denpasar–Gilimanuk route has become heavily damaged again and is unable to accommodate the current number and size of vehicles, including large trucks containing staple commodities and construction materials. The road is narrow and winding, with sharp inclines at some points. Such conditions prevent vehicles from moving quickly. As many of these large trucks are heading to Lombok, NTB, they can travel on the Singaraja route or by ocean ferry.
The head of Benoa Port similarly suggested that Bali needed to increase the functions of the seaport to provide for the smoother distribution of commodities to and from Bali.
The poor state of the Denpasar–Gilimanuk route had indirectly led to fewer travel agencies taking their guests to tourist destinations in the western region of Bali.

For years, the public and transportation experts have urged the local administration to divert heavy vehicles to the Singaraja route, starting from Gilimanuk and moving along the island’s north coastal regions. The suggestion went unheeded with the reason given that the northern route was longer and would add additional costs to truck operators. Such a stance may soon change, however, as the regular and lengthy traffic jams on the Gilimanuk-Denpasar route have begun to exact a financial toll on trucking operations.

The Denpasar-Gilimanuk route is a national road, which is the responsibility of the central government. Nonetheless, the Bali administration is currently preparing a short-term solution by scheduling special hours for large goods trucks to use the road. Trucks may only be allowed to use the road at night or early in the morning so that tourist buses and other private vehicles may use the road during regular daytime hours. Once a final plan is decided, it would be officiated in the form of a provincial regulation.

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