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Welcome Aboard! Is this the Singaraja Choo Choo?

Culture and Tourism Minister Suggests a Railway May be the Best Alternative to a Proposed Toll Road.

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As reported by [Java to Bali Toll Road], Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has proposed building a toll road from western Java to eastern Bali, connecting the islands with a bridge as a solution to traffic congestion and encourage the economic development of the Island.

The idea of a Java Ė Bali toll road has received less than enthusiastic support in Bali and now, according to a report carried in the Indonesian-language daily Bali Post, Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik, has suggested that a railroad system circling the island might be a more acceptable and feasible alternative in Bali's search for a solution to increasing traffic and population congestion.

Bali has never had any sort of rail system.

In comments made following a religious ceremony at Batu Klotok Temple in Semarapura, Bali, on February 2, 2005, the Minister said, "I've been hearing a lot of talk against the proposed toll road, with many voices opposed to the plan. I think that the best alternative would be to develop a rail system around Bali's perimeter."

According to the Minister, Bali's low and flat coastal perimeter could support a railway that could be used by residents of Bali's eastern and western districts to commute to jobs in Denpasar. He feels this might help reduce the gridlock that has started to take hold in the capital city and reduce property pressures in the Island's south.

Thorough Assessment Needed

Wacik called for a thorough assessment of the feasibility of the proposed railroad project, conducted by the Regional Development Planning Office (Bappeda). The Minister said that he would try to secure funds for this assessment which could eventually serve as a blue print for the socialization of the proposed railroad system to the people of Bali.

Admitting that in addition to any technical and environmental viability obstacles, the Balinese will also be chiefly concerned with the potential negative impact on Balinese culture and tradition. Wacik suggest that the Balinese may have to relent on some closely held traditional beliefs in order to meet the challenges posed by increasing population and modernization.

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