With hundreds of thousands of tourists making their way home again after celebrating the festive season on the Island of the Gods, the province’s roads are crumbling under pressure.
Bali is experiencing more travel chaos than perhaps ever before.
A record-breaking number of vehicles have been on Bali’s roads this festive season, and as tourist begin their return journeys to both I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport and Gilimanuk Habor, all of Bali’s major highways have either been in gridlock or moving along at a snail’s pace at best.
Data shows that 73,000 vehicles have been using the Mandara Toll Road every day since the 29th of December.
The Mandara Toll Road connects Benoa in Denpasar to Ngurah Rai Airport and onwards towards Nusa Dua.
Throughout the year, the toll road is seldom packed with vehicles, with congestion a real rarity.
The record figures of 73,000 vehicles on the toll road per day vastly outnumber the predicted volume of traffic heading into the festive season.
Traffic officials, the police, and the Ministry of Tourism anticipated just 38,000 vehicles using the Mandala Toll Road every day, which would have been manageable.
Only 35% of the vehicles on the toll road have been motorcycles, with so many cars and minivans traffic backed up so significantly that tourists have had no option but to leave their transfer vehicles and start walking to the airport.
Footage circulating online shows hundreds of tourists abandoning their taxis and transfer vehicles in favor of walking the rest of the way to the airport, carrying their luggage as they go.
Hundreds of tourists were at risk of missing their flights due to the manic traffic.
With this in mind, it is highly advisable for tourists leaving Bali between the 1-5th January to leave an exceedingly generous amount of time to travel from their accommodation to the airport, or ferry port.
The Head of the Bali Transportation Agency, I Gede Wayan Samsi Gunarta, has confirmed that shuttle services will be available for tourists at peak traffic hours in the coming days.
Gunarta told reporters “We are paying special attention to [tourists] getting to the airport. Starting at 4 pm we will operate buses from Nusa Dua to the airport, from Benoa (Pesanggaran) to the airport, then from Central Parking to the airport.”
He added that the shuttle bus is scheduled to depart every 15 minutes from 16.00-23.15 WITA. These buses will be given special lanes so they don’t get stuck in traffic jams.
Speaking separately the Head of Public Relations for the I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport Area Police, I Nyoman Darsana, confirmed that more traffic officers have been deployed across the island to help mitigate the rising traffic congestion.
One of the key issues causing backlogs at the Mandara Toll Road was the number of drivers who needed to top up their toll road payment cards before entering the highway system.
Officials are considering temporarily scrapping the toll road fee just to keep traffic flowing.
Traffic may be backing up on Bali’s roads but at Bali Airport things are looking busier than at any other time of year too.
General Manager of I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, Handy Heryudhitiawan, and his teams are bracing for the peak flow of outbound lights on Tuesday 2nd January.
Heryudhitiawan said, “We have made various preparations to deal with this backflow…We also urge all service users to arrange and adjust their departure time to the airport so they can arrive earlier before the plane’s departure time.”
Tourists must also be aware that the traffic on the island is backing up everywhere, this includes around the most popular resorts of Canggu, Seminyak, Legian, and Kuta.
Traffic is also mounting around the most popular cultural and natural landscape tourist attractions in the more inland areas.
Traffic has been causing delays around the rice terraces of Telallagang, the villages around Kintamani, Lake Batur, and Mount Batur, and on the roads leading to the village and famous temples around Bedugul.
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