An Indonesian Minister has confirmed to the media that plans for North Bali Airport are still in the pipeline despite the project being knocked off the government’s propriety list in late July 2022. Deputy Minister for Regional Development and Spatial Planning, Wahyu Utomo, has told reports that the project is still very much needed.
In the last week of July, President Joko Widodo removed a total of eight projects from the National Strategic Projects list. He ordered the Ministery of Economic Affairs and the Departments for Regional Development and Spatial Planning to deprioritize any projects that were not on track.
This included the long-anticipated North Bali Airport which was way off track for its initial target of opening in 2024. The government has had trouble acquiring the land and as yet no construction has started. It would be near impossible to bring the project to completion by the end of 2024 even if every convinceable resource was thrown at the project.
The government has also been focusing on developing the current international airport, I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, ahead of the G20 in November. Improvements have been made to the infrastructure of the cargo terminal to help make receiving the delegations, security, and all the infrastructure that goes with hosting one of the world’s biggest political conferences.
There has also been the construction of a VVIP Terminal to welcome world leaders and their delegations minimizing interference to civilian arrivals and departures.
Deputy Minister Wahyu Utomo told reporters that work to realign the development of North Bali Airport is underway. He confirmed that the removal of the project from the National Strategic Projects plans ‘does not mean that the project will not be carried out, but the pace will be different. Because many problems require greater effort so that in 2024 (it is predicted) it will not be completed’.
Plans for North Bali Airport were first formally stipulated in government documents in 2019 as a part of the Airport Master Plan devised by the Minister of Transportation of the Republic of Indonesia. The thinking behind the project was to increase the capacity to receive international and domestic aircraft. Ngurah Raid International only has one runway due to land constraints cannot develop much further, and there is certainly no scope for an additional runway.
It was always hoped that the North Bali airport would help promote development in the North of Bali, spanning from North East to North West. Much of Bali’s infrastructure, resources, and development, both in terms of tourism and facilities for local people, are concentrated in Denpasar and the southern beaches. Though there is a growing tourism industry in Northern Bali, especially in areas like Lovina, the number of annual tourists and tourism-related facilities pales in comparison to Kuta, Denpasar, and Sanur.
Further thinking around the potential benefits of North Bali Airport related to the government’s intention of positioning Bali as a destination for international and high-level conferences. North Bali Airport would increase Bali’s capacity to receive air passengers from 24 million to 32 million people annually. This sizeable increase would undoubtedly translate to increase economic benefits and more fair distribution of economic development across the Island of the Gods.
So although the project was deprioritized, it has been formally confirmed that it’s not been scrapped altogether. The President Director of PT BIBU Erwanto Sad Adiatmoko, the government’s construction partner, confirmed that his teams conducted research on eight different sites across Bali and that the site in Kubuaddan, Buleleng Regency remains the right place for development.
He explained to reporters that the process of the land acquisition remains underway. He confirmed that the airport development does not sacrifice any residential or productive agricultural land. He assured communities that the project does not displace any places of worship and does not interfere with any historical or cultural sites. He did not give any details as to when he expected land acquisition to be completed.
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