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The Rising Toll of Shifting Sands on Serangan Island

Unpaid Bills, Court Cases and Uncertain Investors Combine to Complicate Building of Toll Bridge Connecting Serangan Island with Tanjung Benoa.

(9/29/2010) Plans to build a toll-bridge highway (STB) connecting Serangan Island and Tanjung Benoa and shrinking the distance from Sanur to Nusa Dua appears to be suffering setbacks on a number of fronts. A Korean investor who has declared interest in the project is said to be a loosely-formed business entity. Added to this, the owning company of the Serangan land Bali Turtle Island Development Corporation (BTID) is bogged down in a continuing legal case revolving around unpaid obligations to the Japanese company that reclaimed large areas at the island.

In the hopes of salvaging the project, local promoters of the road are awaiting a meeting promised by the Coordinating Minister of Finance to discuss financing of the project.

The provincial head of Public Works for Bali, Dewa Puniassa, told Radar Bali that the province is waiting for a ministerial decision on funding for the STB. He explained: "There's been no decision to cancel (the project), although many problems have arisen. We are still waiting for the meeting at the level of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy."

He admitted there are many problems affecting the STB are on the horizon. "These are outside technical problems. Most recently the threat of bankruptcy (BTID) has created another obstacle. There is news that there has been a shift in ownership to the Japanese," said Puniassa.

In the current condition, Puniassa said he hoped that the Bali House of Representatives (DPRD-Bali) would reach out to whoever is now in control of the BTID. He pointed out that regulations require that the development must set aside 20-30% of its space for public spaces. The Public Works chief wants the BTID to donate the land needed for the toll way from its legal obligation to provide space for public lands.

He also denied rumors that the Korean investors have bolted from the project. He said the Korean investors were merely undertaking a project review.