The President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, visited Bali this week. He has conducted a series of formal visits to communities and important projects on the island. President Widodo, affectionally called Jokowi, has inaugurated the Danu Kerthi Dam in Buleleng. During his opening speech, he declared that the dam would help control water supplies and manage potential flooding and contribute to the local economy.
During the inauguration ceremony of the Danu Kerthi Dam, President Widodo was joined by Public Works and Public Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono, the Director General of Water Resources Jarot Widyoko, and the Governor of Bali, Wayan Koster. The impressive new dam is 260m in length and stands 70m tall. The project cost the state IDR 820.8 billion.
President Widodo said, “The Danu Kerthi Buleleng Dam functions to irrigate 588 hectares of rice fields and reduce flooding. Today we make it official.” The official opening was attended by government officials, the media, and 800 elementary school students who performed traditional dances. President Widodo chatted with some of the students who were excited to meet the Head of State in person.
Governor Koster was happy to have the President in attendance to officially open the dam. He said, “We request the President to inaugurate the dam, which was originally called the Tamblang Dam; we ask to adopt local wisdom, with the proposed name of the Danu Kerthi Buleleng Dam. Danu means a source of water. Kerthi is to purify and glorify springs.”
Widyoko told reporters, “This technology can be an example for the construction of other dams in Indonesia because it is cheaper and more stable (flexible). This is the 36th dam of a total of 61 dams that have been built. We expect that this innovation will be more affordable later on.” Noting that Danu Kerthi Dam uses technologies yet to be implemented elsewhere in Indonesia.
President Widodo has had a busy schedule. He has also officially opened the Singaraja-Mengwitani City Border Shortcut, which the provincial government initially proposed in 2018. Later in the day, the President and his teams visited the Singaraja New Market, along with First Lady Ibu Iriana Widodo. The market was busy, and traders and the local community came out to welcome the President on the special occasion. Together the President and First Lady handed out social assistance packets and capital assistance to traders in need to support.
As President Widodo walked and talked with community members, he enquired about the cost of living and the price of essentials like cooking oil and rice. According to a post on the President’s Instagram account, community members shared that the cost of commodities is ‘still well under control’.
It was onward for the President and his delegation, who also visited the Jembrana District government offices. During this visit, he praised the regency for supporting the development of the local textile industry. Jokowi said, “I really appreciate what the district head has done, supported by the governor of Bali, in developing woven and songket (fabrics). This will encourage creative industries based on local culture. I really appreciate this.”
He added that he was pleased that Governor Koster’s cultural preservation regulations are widely adhered to across Bali. The regulation states that government employees, private employees, community members, and students must wear traditional Balinese clothing on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
President Widodo’s visit to Buleleng is significant for the regency. There is a frequent feeling that much of Bali’s development and politics is too heavily focused on Denpasar and the southern regencies. His visit will no doubt boost public confidence.
In December 2022, the Secretary of the DPD Hanura Party for Bali Province, Gde Wirajaya Wisna, shared his dream of developing the Buleleng Regency and the regional capital of Singaraja into the new capital of Bali. Wisna told reporters, “Buleleng is very relevant to become the capital of Bali as when it was believed to be the capital of the Lesser Sundas during the reign of President Soekarno”.
There is certainly a commitment from the Ministry of Tourism to develop tourism business opportunities in Buleleng Regency, yet, the complexity of moving a provincial capital to a new location makes it highly unlikely such a decision will be taken in the foreseeable future.
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