Government talk of a railway for Bali is welcome, but without any real thought and planning the discussions, like many suggested problem-solving schemes before them, will amount to nothing.
Already, in a bid to decongest the traffic-clogged southern areas of Bali, Governor I Made Mangku Pastika’s plan to build a highway overpass has been given the green light by government officials and Hindu authorities.
Yet that project remains confined to the drawing board, with no real plans as to when it will commence, much less how the road will be constructed in a densely populated area where there is scant available space. It is precisely this disconnect between inspiration and action that trips Bali up every time.
And so it is with the railway pitch. While on paper it sounds grand, and would doubtless add mighty cachet to Bali’s tourism as visitors hop aboard for sedate jam-free journeys, a lack of fundamental substance to the plan means it will likely never be realised.
So how, therefore, can Bali overcome its chronic traffic problems, notwithstanding an entire lack of effective public transportation?
The government could start with the introduction of a Jakarta-style busway system with lanes only for the facility. That’s also still (effectively) on the drawing board. It was meant to start this year, but somehow the necessary hard work wasn’t done ahead of the big announcement. It will (we hope) operate shuttle services on major thoroughfares, especially from the airport to the Seminyak end of Sunset Road; and from the airport to Sanur, and beyond up to tourist areas of the east coast past Candi Dasa.
Basic services such as these – which are easily workable due to roadside space already available – must be considered before loftier transportation schemes are designed and introduced.
Dreaming up great plans that only end up gathering dust does not get us anywhere.