Earlier this week the Regency of Tabanan declared a localized emergency following the fire at the Mandung TPA.
As of Thursday 19th October the Acting Governor of Bali, Sang Made Mahendra Jaya, has declared a 14-day emergency across the island. The emergency status is in light of the ongoing landfill fires and wildfires, and most significantly the island-wide drought.
Speaking from Denpasar on Thursday Acting Governor Jaya told the management coordination meeting that” by looking at the development of the existing situation, to protect the community and increase preparedness, as well as facilitate access, we have agreed to establish and emerge status for the next 14-days, starting today.”
This emergency status will help free up funding and resources for emergency crews around the island and to better distribute aid to those most seriously affected by fire and drought.
Acting Governor Jaya continued, “This emergency status is the lowest escalation according to the law so that later our movement and access in dealing with disaster will be easier, [such as] carrying out various activities including providing support spaces.”
There are currently three sub-districts in Bali that have gone more than 94 days without rain. During the meeting, the Head of the National Disaster Agency for Bali, Made Rentin, made two major requests of the Governor. First, he requested more equipment to tackle the landfill fires and wildfires, and he sought permission to use weather modification technology to be brought to Bali to help tackle the drought.
The worst affected areas are Kubu District in Karangasem, Kubucepat in Bulelng, and Gerokgak in Buleleng.
Even though the landfill fires are ablaze at Suwung TPA in South Denpasar, Mandung TPA in Tabanan and wildfires rage across the slopes of Mount Agung in Karangasem, it is urgent that rain falls on the worse-affected drought regions for the sake of the island as a whole.
The Head of the National Disaster Agency for Indonesia, Lt General Suharyanto, told the meeting that the request would be considered by giving a sharp response to the Acting Governor, noting that droughts and fires are also causing havoc across other parts of the country.
He said that there are only five planes, all funded by the private sector, that can be used for weather seeding and that they are currently on deployment in Sumatra and Kalimantan. Once they are available, they will be sent to Bali.
Acting Governor Jaya thanked the teams at the National Disaster Management Agency for Bali for their tireless efforts over the last due weeks.
He said, “We thank BNPB and the team; their attention to Bali is extraordinary. If we look at the escalation of disasters in Bali compared to other areas, the response to assistance from the BNPB is extraordinary, including equipment assistance and operational funding support.”
Efforts remain underway to tackle the fires at Suwung TPA and Mandung TPA, as well as wildfires on the slopes of Mount Agung, Mount Batur, and other regions around east Bali.
What does the emergency status mean for tourists visiting Bali?
Tourists must be prepared to experience lower-than-usual air quality across Bali over the coming weeks. Even as fires are brought under control, many of the sites will continue to shoulder for weeks.
Tourists visiting the east of Bali, especially around resorts like Amed, may be asked by their hosts to be extra mindful of water consumption when showering and bathing.
Tourists planning day trips around areas where wildfires have been breaking out should leave extra time on the roads in case of closures or diversions.
This will be especially true around Mount Batur and Mount Agung.
Those with breathing sensitivities are advised to wear a mask outdoors, and tourists are recommended to keep an eye on the air quality readings and adjust their activities according to their own risk assessments.
In a separate statement, the Head of Denpasar Police, AA Ngurah Bawa Nendra, has temporarily banned the public from using lasers to break clouds.
In a written statement he shared “To business actors and the public to temporarily stop the use of laser lights/spotlights which function to break up clouds/eliminate rain for religious/traditional ceremonies, wedding celebrations, events and other activities.“
This emergency status will remain in effect for 14 days and enable the provincial government to utilize more resources and funding; more updates will follow in the coming days.
As yet, the Acting Governor has not issued any guidelines suggesting the public should alter day-to-day activities, though the situation remains under review.
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