Waste management is an important topic of conversation in Bali. For the most part, the dialogue focuses on the impact of plastic waste on the island’s beaches. When tides of garbage wash up on Bali’s beaches, many fear that it will tarnish the island’s public image as a picturesque beach resort.
The issue that gets less airtime is the topic of waste inland and in the island’s urban environments. Bali’s capital city Denpasar has a longstanding problem with waste management. As the Suwung Landfill is now closed, waste is mounting up at the newly established waste processing centers as they’re not yet fully operational.
Referred to locally as a ‘time bomb,’ waste is now mounting up outside the newly established Reuse, Reduce, Recycle Waste Disposal Facilities (TPS3R) facility in Denpasar. Last year Bali’s Governor Wayan Koster announced that all landfills in Bali would close by September, and the island’s waste management system would migrate over to the TPS3R facilities.
Speaking at the time of the announcement, Governor Koster said, “With the landfills closed and the TPS3R and TPST up and running, we won’t have a problem with overcapacity landfill anymore…We will open 26 TPS3R and 15 TPST across various regions, including Denpasar, before the G-20 Conference in September.”
The landfills did close, but the implications of the reasonably sudden closures are now being felt by residents across the island. Despite assurances from local leaders last week that the issue would be seen to immediately, trash is still mounting up outside the TSPT Lumintang in Denpasar. As one of the busiest waste management facilities on the island, just a day out of action creates a serious backlog of garbage.
Footage of the garbage piling up in Banjar Tern Sari in North Denpasar is hitting the headlines of Bali’s local newspapers and social media citizen journalism sites. Speaking to reporters, Denpasar City DPRD member, Anak Agung Susruta Ngurah Putra, confirmed that he had asked the local government to prioritize action over ceremony. Putra called out city government officials for formally inaugurating the TSPT Lumintang with all the fanfare that such an event entails without the facility being fully functional.
He said, “I got information on the inauguration of TPST attended by the minister [Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan] that they’ll solve the trash problem first. Don’t if someone comes, [only] then clean up to the toll road. First, show the proof of trash handled with TPST. If you can’t finish the trash completely, it’s embarrassing.”
The Head of UPTD Waste Management of the Bali Provincial Forestry and Environment Office, Made Armadi, issued an explanation for why the trash is not currently being processed in Denpasar. He said that the issue is partly due to heavy rains and that there are only four utility vehicles available to shift over 1200 tons of garbage a day. He also noted that the TPS3R and TPST facilities were also designed to process waste for recycling and reuse, not simply landfills. He said that communities needed to focus on waste reduction to help tackle the issue.
Armadi was unable to confirm when the queue of garbage trucks or the mounting garbage heap would end. He fears that more heavy rain will see more garbage being washed through the streets. Speaking separately on Thursday, 23rd February, the Regional Secretary of Denpasar City, Alit Wiradana, told reports the issue is being seen to. He said, “according to the Mayor’s instruction, this waste accumulation is immediately handled, and we have also instructed that all waste stations be motored, anticipated and optimized for transportation periodically so that waste does not spill and accumulate.”
He concluded, “The party hopes this handling can be completed as soon as possible. So as not to disturb the comfort of the surrounding community. To tackle this garbage problem, Denpasar City has also added heavy equipment, both by buying a new one or renting heavy equipment. So our line up [operates] day and nights dealing with the garbage that every day the volume also decreases.”
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