Aching for Action

A wave of woes appears to have washed over our normally happy isle, as we contend with a series of unresolved, urgent problems that make our – and visitors’ – lives more difficult, and in some cases endangers them.

Currently we are experiencing a dangerous outbreak of rabies; a string of power outages; severe overdevelopment and associated traffic snarls on roads that claim increasingly large numbers of lives; an airport that is under-maintained and wholly inefficient; insanely high taxes on imported food and drink products; and lax law enforcement and corruption right across the board.

As always, there is much talk at official level about redressing these problems; but as usual, again as always, there is little resultant action. Officials, it seems, are more set on maintaining the status quo – which is leading to a dishevelled Bali – than actually enacting solid measures that benefit the island and propel it forward.

The entrenched policy appears to be: make a stab at it and hope for the best. We have seen this folly play out with deadly effect in the rabies epidemic that has cost at least a dozen lives: There was – against the eradication norms adopted by international experts – a culling of sorts of feral dogs and a half-hearted attempt at vaccination that now seems to have fizzled and many dogs are not getting the necessary second and third shots. Meanwhile, the fatal disease keeps advancing.

And on the rolling blackouts – which state-run utility PLN now asserts will “end early” on November 26 – we are offered a lasting solution neither by PLN nor the local or central governments, who appear more intent on taxing holidaying foreigners to the hilt instead of providing basic infrastructure.

The cult of short-sightedness rules. We see this in the fact that just as Bali this year may turn in a record-high in foreign visitor arrivals, the authorities seem set on sabotaging this vital industry instead of supporting and developing it.

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