A moveable floating bridge, also known as a pontoon, collapsed into the sea on Thursday afternoon at Nusa Penida dock. The incident saw passengers plunging into the sea as they left dry land to board the fast boat back to Bali.
The Directorate General of Sea Transportation of the Ministry of Transportation through the Nusa Penida Class II Port Administration Unit, I Ketut Gede Sudarma, told confirmed the incident to the media on Thursday afternoon. He said, “The incident occurred at Banjar Nyuh Harbor, Nusa Penida District, Thursday (15/12) at around 4.45 pm. The Semabu Hills Fast Boat carrying passengers of foreign nationals departed from Nusa Penida to Sanur Port, Denpasar”.
Dozens of passengers fell into the water. The Transportation Office stated that 25 people fell into the water, though a spokesman for Klungkung Police, Agus Widiono, told the press that a total of 35 people were plunged into the sea. He said the pontoon sank “because around 35 passengers tried to cross the connecting bridge at the same time. The contours of the bridge did not allow that many to pass. The bridge collapsed, and the passengers were scattered”
Despite the incident, the fast boat managed to set off for Sanur on time. It is believed that the pontoon broke due to too many passengers standing on it. The Nusa Penida SAR Coordinator, Putu Cakra Negara, confirmed that he and his team attended the scene as soon as they received the call about the sunken bridge. He reiterated that, thankfully, there were no causalities.
Officers from the Nusa Penida Transportation Office have visited the site. They have confirmed that a railing is needed in the middle of the jetty to give people something to hold onto as they walk from the dock to the boats. They have also said that there need to be additional floating boulders to keep the pontoon buoyant.
The Nusa Penida Transport Office has also confirmed that the organization of passengers must improve. They said that each fast boat must ensure that all passengers are ready and present before allowing them to walk down the pontoon and onto the boats, especially at busy times when multiple boats are preparing to depart. Sudarma said, “UPP Class II Nusa Penida will increase supervision regarding the discipline of using boarding passes by fast boat ship operators”.
Outside of the dock itself, the Transportation Office has called for improvements in the management of vehicles in and out of the car park. They have called on village cooperatives and local pecalang (traditional Balinese security) to manage the flow of vehicles to make the whole experience safer and more comfortable for tourists.
Sudarma apologised for Thursday’s incident. He called on fast boat operators and passengers to comply with safety procedures and to prioritize safety, even if that means being extra cautious. He reiterated that safety is a shared responsibility between fast boat operators, the port, and passengers.
The new pontoon was only opened on 5th December. The Regent of Klungung, I Nyoman Suwirta, has called on all port authorities to put into practice the lessons learned from the incident as soon as possible. He urged that the pontoon must never be overloaded again.
Suwirta said, “This is a lesson for speedboat managers and operators so that there is no accumulation of passengers at the port. Because at the port, people are moving all the time, they can’t stay still or they will pile up in one place for a long time.”
The new pontoon in Nusa Penida comes as part of the island’s mission to bring more cruise tourism to the island. Speaking during World Tourism Day events on 27th September, Minister Uno, said that the new floating pontoon would help bring bigger boats and more high-quality tourists to the Nusa Islands.
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