The Bali government is not on board with a recent proposal from the regent of Banyuwangi, East Java that a bridge be built through the Bali Strait, connecting Bali and Java.
Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika said this isn’t the first time such a proposal has come up and that the people of Bali have been rejecting this idea for the past 15 years.
The purpose of the bridge would apparently be to help alleviate the ever-backed up queues for trucks making the crossing via boat between the East Java port in Ketapang and the Bali port in Gilimanuk. Pastika says, however, in that case, the harbors need to be revitalized to improve their services because a bridge would only lead to more people passing through Bali and more congestion.
Pastika argued that the number of trucks passing from Java to places further east, beyond Bali in NTB and NTT would start to go through Bali if there was a bridge, instead of bypassing it as they do now, via boat.
Putu Artha, the regent of Jembrana, Bali where the Gilimanuk Port is located, is backing Pastika up on this. Sort of. Artha says the bottleneck at the harbors is a problem for the port authorities to fix and that a bridge shouldn’t be built now, but he left it open for the future.
“I don’t think it’s the right time, I haven’t yet spoken on rejecting or accepting the construction of the bridge. The time schedule at the port should be set for better running of sea transport,” Artha said, as quoted by Tribun Bali.
And on top of that, local residents in Bali have also demonstrated resistance at the prospect of a bridge being built, with some netizens even arguing that the mythology is that the two islands were once conjoined, but now they are meant to be separated and connecting them would mess with the sanctity of Bali.
On the other hand, from the Java side of things, we’re wondering if this bridge could be about more than just crowded port issues and is perhaps instead a ploy to help the tourism situation in Banyuwangi, as developers have been trying to put the city on the map as a more mainstream tourist destination.