Double Bypass

The duplication of the Sanur-Kusamba highway – the splendidly named Prof. Ida Bagus Mantra Bypass – is a work in progress. Well, in theory. The work is ephemeral and the progress slow. It’s not clear why the project is so complicated: it’s a pretty straightforward 19-kilometre road improvement, that’s all. What is clear is that, like everything else, it is mired in pettifogging argument and sheer bureaucratic incompetence.

This wouldn’t matter (well, not as much) if Indonesian funds were paying for the latest shemozzle. But they’re not. Only 11 percent of the Rp180.8 billion (US$20.3 million) funding is from Indonesian sources. That wouldn’t even cover the locally sourced proportionate share of muddle-headed backing and filling that’s going on. The rest is from “soft loans” provided by Australian aid.

The project has been chaotically under way for a while. The authorities would like us all to remain patient while they play with their Lego sets. The builders say the first 11 kilometres of the duplication should now be open in February 2011 and the remaining eight kilometres in 2012.

That would be good. It might help head off the need for double bypass surgery among Bali’s long-suffering road users when the forthcoming major shemozzle at Simpang Siur and the airport gets under way.

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