Bali hopes to have eyesore GWK construction finished by 2018 IMF-World Bank meeting

The sculpture is the only break you can see in Jimbaran’s quiet sky line. Photo: Flickr
The sculpture is the only break you can see in Jimbaran’s quiet sky line. Photo: Flickr

An underpass at the roundabout leading to Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport is not the only major construction project the provincial government hopes to have wrapped up ahead of the IMF-World Bank Meeting to be held in Bali in October 2018.

A sculpture that’s been years in the making, will finally be finished by the big 2018 meeting, hopes the construction team working on the giant Hindu god, Wisnu riding a winged, mythological garuda in Jimbaran’s 60-hectare Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park.

The sculpture along with the building it’s being made on top of, is supposed to stand at 120 meters, making it taller than the 93-meter high American Statue of Liberty. The wingspan of the garuda will stretch 64 meters—if all goes as planned.

As it sits now, the pyramid of scaffolding is really the only major obstruction you can see, jutting out from the hills of Jimbaran and Ungasan on South Bali’s Bukit Peninsula.

“We expect to finish in September 2018,” GWK Construction Department Head Apul Sihotang told Tribun Bali on Thursday.

One of the big challenges of completing the project is keeping the sculpture cool enough to avoid cracking. Workers surround the sculpture with ice blocks brought in from East Java. The ice blocks—44,000 of them—measure 20 centimeters by 20 centimeters by 120 centimeters, says Sihotang.

“Because the supply of ice blocks from Bali is not sufficient, we bring them in from Banyuwangi (East Java),” said Sihotang.

The ice isn’t the only material coming over from Java. The sculptor’s designer, Nyoman Nuarta, and his team have imported copper and brass for the sculpture’s modules, directly from Bandung, West Java.

A total of 160 out of 754 modules—each weighing on average 800 kilograms—have been installed so far, according to Sihotang.

Given the sculpture’s position on top of such a breezy hill, winds are a major factor for installation.

“It depends on the the wind and the weather. If the wind is not too strong and the weather allows it, 10 modules per day can go up.”

“As of now, the sculpture is 24 percent installed,” Sihotang said on Thursday.

“When all is completed, we will provide lifts up to the 20th floor, so you’ll be able to see Bali from that height.”

The pressure is on from the provincial government to complete the sculpture by the IMF-World Bank meeting so a dinner event can be held there for the meeting’s attendees, says Sihotang.

Controversy had shrouded GWK even before it was built. The mega-project was protested by Hindu religious leaders who argued that the gigantic statue would disrupt the spiritual balance in Bali and it was just not right to use a sacred symbol as a commercial tourist attraction. Moreover, buildings are restricted to the ‘height of a coconut tree’, capped at 15 meters in Bali; however, the project was conceived anyway by those who argued it could bring in more tourists and thus more revenue to Bali.

Since then, the park attracts tourists who come to see the 23-meter bust of Wisnu and is also the site of major music events and festivals like Soundrenaline, Dreamfields, and now the upcoming Bestival.

While the park had its initial groundbreaking in 1997, GWK still hasn’t been without controversy ever since. Bankruptcy resulted the park changing hands over to Indonesian property developer Pt. Alam Sutera Realty in 2014, which declared (but hasn’t followed through with) plans to build villas in the park. 

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