With the 2024 general election just around the corner, officials in Bali are reviewing projects, plans, and proposals and making sure all legislation is being adhered to to the letter.
One of the most contentious projects in Bali over the last few years has been the development of the North Bali Airport.
It’s been on, it’s been off, it’s been on again and then scrapped entirely…or not quite. Last year President Joko Widodo announced that the development of the North Bali Airport was officially off the government’s list of priority projects.
He cited that the lack of progress on the new transportation hub meant that it was no longer a viable use of the central government’s funding for that cycle.
Although the plans were dropped from the central government’s priority projects list, officials in Bali continued to work to move the process of land acquisition forward and seek private funding.
With tourism booming and Bali’s road infrastructure struggling under the weight of the demands of the ever-increasing traffic, it is clear that big changes need to be made.
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In 2024, work will begin on a series of massive road infrastructure projects around the island, the most impactful of which will be carried out at the entrance to the popular resort of Uluwatu.
One of the key arguments for the development of North Bali Airport is that although I Gusti Ngurah Rai International in Denpasar can deal with even more of an increase in arrivals, the surrounding roads cannot.
The second argument is that if there were to be a commercial airport in the north of the island then tourism may be more evenly distributed and bring a bounty of economic benefit to the island.
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Speaking from Denpasar in the run-up to the general election, the Deputy Chair of the Bali DPRD, Nyoman Sugawa Korry, said that the issue of canceling the North Bali Airport will have a serious impact on the balance of economic development of North Bali and South Bali.
Korry said that the idea cannot be fully taken off the table just yet.
He explained, “Actually, we have not responded to the issue of canceling North Bali Airport, which has been around for 10 years and developed during this time (election season).”
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“I personally don’t want to have an opinion because so far the issue of building North Bali Airport has been more subjective. There are those who want to build in West Bali, on the one hand, there are those who direct the issue to East Bali. Ultimately, there are interests of investors and investments by certain groups.”
Korry added, “It’s just that, if a cancellation occurs, it will have a serious impact on Bali. There will be loss of job opportunities and failed efforts to narrow the economic gap in society in all fields.”
It is clear the discussion around whether or not North Bali Airport is a necessary development is more often than not a catalyst for a discussion around the unequal development of the north, west, and east of Bali vs the south.
Bali is governed by nine regencies, and Badung Regency is home to the majority of the island’s biggest holiday resorts. Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Canggu, Jimbaran, Uluwatu, and Nusa Dua all fall within the same jurisdiction.
Ubud is the flagship resort of Gianyar Regency and the islands of Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Lembongan are the jewels of Klungkung Regency.
Many feel that economic development in areas like Buleleng Regency, Karangasem Regency, and Jembrana Regency has long been overlooked and that the second airport would help funnel more resources into these areas.
It remains to be seen if plans for North Bali Airport come to fruition in this next political cycle.
With the Gilimanuk-Medewi Toll Road just last week going back up for tender, and the Bali Railway Network set for further development in 2024, there is a lot of potential for huge infrastructural changes in Bali over the next four years that will benefit residents, and completely change tourists experience of the island.
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