On Tuesday 14th November, five immigration officers who work at Ngurah Rai Immigration post at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport were arrested on suspicion of extorting money from tourists to use the fast track arrivals line.
The five immigration officers remain under investigation, and the situation has caused quite a stir across Bali.
Officials have spoken out following the arrest to reveal more details about how the fast track lane at Bali Airport could work moving forward.
They’ve also spoken about steps they are taking to ensure that the commitment to the airport being a ‘Corruption Free Zone’ is held in integrity.
On Tuesday, officers were caught charging tourists to use the free-to-use fast-track immigration lane. The dedicated counter is in place for only those who need it most, whether this be VIP arrivals, elderly people, or those with additional needs.
@faizalmaulana_22 Salah satu tempat terindah saat landing 😍🛬 #Bali ♬ original sound – Ian Asher
Bali Regional Secretary, Dewa Made Indra, has spoken out to thank the Bali High Prosecutors Office for taking up the investigation and stopping the immigration officer’s illegal operation in its tracks.
Indra told reporters, “We thank the authorities who carried out the control. The Bali Provincial Government’s interest is how it can serve tourists well.”
He said, “We know that at certain times, for example, in the afternoon, there are a lot of arrivals which has an impact on the queue at Immigration. So, certain people such as VVIPs and VIPs don’t join the queue, so a special lane is created. Once again, the intention was good.”
Addressing immigration officers around the province, Indra added that fast-track services should not be extorted for personal financial gain. He noted however that the case will be dealt with by the Bali High Prosecutors Office and the Directorate General of Immigration, not the provincial government.
He confirmed that the case is ongoing at the Bali Prosecutor’s Office Special Crimes Department.
While airport officials and government representatives have been clear that paying for fast-track services at Ngurah Rai Immigration is illegal, some tourism observers have been speaking to the press and revealed that this situation has been playing out for quite some time.
Local tourism expert Panudiana Kuhn told reporters, “Fast track is [seems as] a VIP service, payment per person is IDR 275,000, in the past everyone could play.”
During the arrests, it was revealed that the team from the Bali High Prosecutor’s Office managed to secure cash worth IDR 100 million [USD 6,400]. Kuhn feels that this is a clear sign that tourists were also playing along with the break in the system.
He explained that in many big international airports, the fast track service is free and promoted as a service for business class passengers.
He said, “business class usually gets this service, apart from that at customs the suitcases are also out first, [it can also be used] by people who use wheelchairs, even though they are economy class they are services first.”
“Likewise for families bringing small children, this is an international standard. Meanwhile, Indonesia is a developing country to get an excellent service at the immigration department you have to pay extra!” He joked.
In light of the extortion case the Association of Indonesia Travel Agents (Asita) is proposing that new regulations be introduced to better control the system, and to offer a paid-for priority processing service at the airport.
The Chairman of Asita Bali, Putu Winastra, said “We are pushing for clear regulations to be made and collected officially, so the money goes into the state treasury.”
He concluded “We, as one of the Bali tourism associations, really regret that this case occurred. In fact, together with the government, tourism actors, and the community, we want to organize Bali tourism to be of higher quality. This case has tarnished Bali.”
Plan Your Next Bali Vacation:
Book The Best English Speaking Drivers For Airport Transfers & Tours
Choose From Thousands of Bali Hotels, Resorts, and Hostels with Free Cancellation On Most Properties
For the latest Bali News & Debate Join our Facebook Community
SUBSCRIBE TO NEW POSTS
Enter your email address to subscribe to The Bali Sun’s latest breaking news, straight to your inbox.