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Bringing Bali's North Shore Closer to the Busy South

Bali Considering Highway to Connect Kuta to Seririt in Island's North.

(3/19/2011) The provincial government of Bali is considering moves to improve access to more remote areas as a means of achieving a more equitable distribution of tourism development across the island. Among the steps being considered are the construction of a new highway connecting Kuta in the south with Seririt, Buleleng in the far north and a new quick access road connecting Denpasar with Selemadeg (Tabanan).

The new road projects were advanced by governor Made Mangku Pastika to the press on March 14, 2011. Pastika, quoted in Nusa Bali, describe the north-south highway as a way of more fairly distributing Bali's tourism benefits to include the North which has traditionally found itself at an economic disadvantage when compared to the prosperous South. Said Pastika: "This would ease access to north Bali while at the same time hasten the redistribution of developments between south Bali and north Bali.

Pastika is the first governor of Bali to hail from Buleleng on Bali's northern shore. He told the press that if plans go ahead for the Kuta-Seririt highway, then it is possible that earlier plans for a road connecting Denpasar and Singaraja would be abandoned due to the relatively higher cost of building a highway through Bali's mountain-lake district.

The governor admitted that the construction of new infrastructure projects necessitates the sacrifice of agricultural lands needed for the roadways. "Indeed, we can't avoid the change of use for these lands. This will certainly happen, and that is why we need to make rules to encourage conservation. But, our goal remains to evenly distribute development through the better access afforded by a good infrastructure," the governor explained.

Meanwhile, the head of Bali's Public Works department, Dewa Punia Asa, told the press that it was likely that a quick-access road would soon be built connecting Denpasar and Selemadeg. The construction of a road running from Denpasar - Desa Soka Selemadeg would reduce driving time, eliminating the frequent traffic jams along the network of village roads connecting the two points. Dewa said that a plan for the new road is in hand with the only the issue remaining that of land acquisition. The central government in Jakarta has already endorsed the short cut road with final funding expected to be shared between the national government and the provincial government of Bali.