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For Whom the Road Tolls

Government Studies Suggest Toll Roads in Bali May be Inevitable

(9/10/2006) The idea of toll roads in Bali is hardly new. Past discussions calling for superhighways and fly-overs have always been abandoned in the face of stern opposition from certain segments of Bali's Hindu majority who view overpasses and underpasses as unacceptable to religious dictates and local traditions.

Despite this long-standing resistance, a member of Commission D of the Regional People's Consultative Assembly, Made Dauh Wijana, recently told the Indonesian language Radar Bali that the time has come for Bali to construct expressways. In support of his position, Wijana points to the increasing congestion in Bali's main population centers and the steady growth in industrial and residential complexes.

Acknowledging the cultural resistance encountered in the past by those who've lobbied for expressways, Wijana told Radar Bali: "Indeed the problem needs time for discussion, especially as regards the impact on Balinese culture. But, in 5 to 10 years there will be no alternative left but to construct expressways."

According to Putu Ardhana, the Chief of Transportation for the Province of Bali, "the traffic congestion problem in the Sarbagita area (editor: Denpasar, Badung, Gianyar and Tabanan) is already serious."

Data from local transportation authorities in 2005 estimated 1,224,231 vehicles were operating on the island, 84% of which are motorcycles. In the same year, the total population of Bali stood at 3,138,022 people served by a road system measuring 6,644.25 kilometers in length. In other words, there is an average of 185 vehicles for every kilometer of paved roadway on the island.

While the transportation chief continues to urge the development and use of public transport in Bali, he acknowledges local resistance to shared transportation remains high.