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Rallying for Rails in Bali

Nyoman Gunarsa, Influential Balinese Artists, Voices His Support for a Round Bali Rail System.

Bali News: Bali, slow rail system, railway, Nyoman Gunarsa, Made Mangku Pastika
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As reported on [Pardon Me, Sir, is this the Bali Island Choo Choo?], Bali's Governor Made Mangku Pastika has expressed interest in a proposal from the central government in Jakarta to establish a round-island slow railway as a means of providing better access to all areas of Bali.

The development of a round island train service received a "thumbs up" from renowned Balinese artist and museum curator Nyoman Gunarsa. Gunarsa's view, reported in Bali Post, suggests such a system would required the conversion and acquisition of minimal amounts of land and would be environmentally friendly.

Explaining his support for the project, Gunarsa said, "the rails for a slow train would be at the most 3 meters in width, while the space needed to build a by-pass highway is 15 meters." The well respected Balinese artist also suggested that the government should end the long-standing polemic on productive lands as such discussions only add to Bali's already crowded situation.

Gunarsa envisions a slow rail system that can encircle the island with stops at major tourism objects. Additionally, the proposed rail system would represent an affordable and efficient means of transportation for the local population of Bali.

Anticipating logistical problems ahead, Gunarsa said that railway tunnels could be built in mountainous areas of Bali, such as between Tabanan and Buleleng.

"Rather than trouble ourselves with airports or toll ways, it would be better to build the slow railway. Such a project would clearly profit the island of Bali," maintained Gunarsa.

Underlining his concern for the way in which green areas have been diverted to other uses in Bali, Gunarsa cited the example of the I.B. Mantra By Pass where the side of the roads are crowded with workshops, stores and cafes with little or no Balinese architectural elements. Such negative and careless development is due to the inability of the government to control zoning and building rules and threatens the image of Bali tourism before the world.

"I am saddened to see Bali lose its identity due to the governments failure to assume its proper role in controlling development. If we allow the current situation to continue I am afraid that Bali will be abandoned by its tourist visitors," said Gunarsa.

Earlier, at a meeting between Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, cabinet ministers, national governors, and lawmakers held at the Tampaksiring Presidential Retreat, Bali's governor Made Mangku Pastika enthusiastically endorsed the proposal put forth by the central government to establish the round-Bali railway system. The governor viewed the system as a way to spread the benefits of Bali's tourism industry to the less visited areas of the island and, because of that, urged the proposal for the railway be studied carefully.

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