The President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, has removed a total of eight major construction projects from the list of National Strategic Projects. One of these eight scrapped projects is the contentious North Bali Airport.
Discussions about creating another international airport in Bali have been ongoing for years. A project was launched to get the North Bali Airport built and operational by 2024. It is thought that slow progress is the reason plans have been scrapped.
Although plans were in place for North Bali Airport to open in 2024, the Indonesian government had not even completed the land acquisition required for construction to start.
The Deputy for Coordination of Regional Development and Spatial Planning of the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, Wahyu Utomo told reporters that President Jokowi has issued instructions to put a stop to any projects that were not making sufficient progress.
Utomo said that the North Bali Airport has been removed from the National Strategic Project list and is there no longer a priority. Discussions around the airport may continue and offers of private investment may be accepted.
He said ‘It does not mean that the project will not be carried out [at all], but the pace will be different. Because many problems require greater effort so that 2024 is not resolved.’ The project has been bought to a close under this term of Widodo’s presidency.
The airport was a government project that was going to be constructed through a partnership with China Construction First Group Corp. Ltd. (CCFG). CCFG is a subsidiary of one of the state-owned Enterprises (BUMN) in China State Construction Engineering Corp. Ltd. (CSCEC). State-owned companies like these in China have a strong track record of financing the construction sector.
Utomo told CNBC Indonesia that the CCFG is ready to fund the project when the land acquisition and all other hurdles are out of the way, though there is no knowing how long that could take. He said that the CCFG is the primary funders of the project moving forward ‘which means that we will not use the state budget and regional budget funds to build this airport’.
According to DetikTravel, a local travel newspaper, the plans for North Bali International Airport, whenever it is built, include a 3,600-metre runway and be able to welcome huge aircraft like Boeing 777s.
The plans state that the terminal buildings will be able to accommodate 50 million passengers every year. This is way above the current tourism targets set by the Indonesian Tourism Minister who, in this recovery year from Covid-19 has set Bali’s tourism targets as 1.5 million international visitors and 7 million domestic arrivals.
Other projects that have been swiped from the National Strategic Project list include the Tiro Damn in Aceh, the Tanjung Api-Api Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in South Sumatra, the Cikarang-Bekasi Laut Inland Waterways (CBL), the Puruk Cahu-Batanjung Railway via Bangkuang in East Kalimantan.
These projects have been sidelined for the same reasons as North Bali Airport, progress in planning and construction has been too slow.
Bali’s current international airport Ngurah Rai is fit for purpose and is receiving an injection of funds ahead of the G20 Summit being held in Bali in November.
The Island of the Gods will welcome heads of state and their delegations from the 20 biggest economies in the world. Construction of a VVIP terminal building at Ngurah Rai is underway to receive high-profile visitors. Renovations are also underway at the cargo terminal to increase capacity for the incoming event.
This week Indonesian immigration has added three new counties to the visa-on-arrival program. Visitors to Bali from Monaco, the Maldives, and Colombia can now holiday in Bali and pay for their visa on arrival at Ngurah Rai International. This brings the total number of countries eligible for a visa on arrival in Indonesia to 75. Visa on arrival in Bali costs IDR 500,000 and can be paid in cash or card in a range of currencies. The VoA is valid for 30-days and can be extended one time for an additional 30-days.
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