Hindu Green Light for Flyover Traffic Solution

DENPASAR ~ Bali’s highest Hindu religious leaders have indicated they are ready to support the long proposed – and opposed – overpass solution to chronic and worsening traffic congestion in southern Bali.

Bali Governor I Made Mangku Pastika had urged Hindu leaders to overcome ongoing rejection as traditionally “taboo” of the plan, which proposes a central government-funded overhead highway linking Bali’s airport to Nusa Dua and to the Dewa Ruci intersection in Kuta.

Most significantly, Bali’s highest Hindu institution, Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia (PHDI), through its Panditha Sabha branch chairman, Ida Pedanda Sebali Tianyar, said the overpass was inevitable, should be thoroughly studied, should fit with the aesthetics of Bali, and should aim not to interfere with other activities, including religion.

The leader said the Hindu religion supported the use of technology to enhance the comfort of human life and explained in detail how the overpass was not contrary to spatial concepts within Balinese Hinduism.

He urged education of the people to encourage good and informed debate, without provocation, slander and suspicion, on traffic solutions, including the overpass.

“For healthy debate, don’t derail something merely because it may not match a personal principle,” he said.

The chairman indicated that an underground traffic solution, proposed, he said, in 1993, may be a preferable solution and should not be discounted purely because of prohibitive cost. “Don’t be afraid of the greater costs,” he said. “The cost will be cheaper if you could eliminate corruption.”

The current traffic condition that caused high emotions in motorists and road accidents was not in keeping with Hindu concepts, he said.

“If the proposed overpass will solve problems in Bali, then why not?” he said. “Let’s discuss it and let’s not be intolerant.”

PHDI Sabha Walaka branch chairman Ketut Wiana said people had rejected an overpass plan 17 years ago because they did not understand the issue or the solution. “Obviously no religion prohibits an overpass,” he said.

A lecturer at the Hindu University of Indonesia, Wiani said there must be a breakthrough in road construction as Bali’s infrastructure was designed to service 2 million people, whereas current estimates put the island’s population at 3.5 million.

He wanted to see mature studies presented with good intentions so “we can sit together and examine them together.”

“In this issue, let’s find the best way,” he said, adding that he was ready to debate anyone who protested a good solution to the problem.

“God is everywhere and He does not mind if we are fragmented,” he said. “Everything can be resolved. If there are concerns, of course there is also a way out.”

Directly before the breakthrough announcements from the PHDI leaders, Governor Pastika had said: “I do not want to violate the public trust. I am a Balinese and we must maintain the concepts of Bali. However, the [overpass] concept is right.”

The governor said while widening roads was an alternative solution, shortage of available land in critically congested areas had prevented development of this option.

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