More than 150 traders, mostly Balinese, who operate at one on Nusa Dua’s last remaining “public beaches” fear that a Bali Tourism Development Corporation (BTDC) development deal will deny them access to their business location and put an end to their livelihoods.
The traders, who set up daily on a limited stretch of land just back just from a beach which is confined at both ends by star-rated luxury resorts — Melia to the north and Hyatt to the south — now conduct their business in front of an ominous corrugated iron wall which runs the length of the beach.
The 300-metre stretch of beach has long been the destination of local Balinese families on Sundays and public holidays. Before the wall went up, the parkland area behind it was used for family recreation, such as picnics, sports and general relaxation.
The Bali Times visited the beach with Banjar Penyirakan leader and businessman Nyoman Sueta, who fears for the traders and for Nusa Dua locals who — despite national laws that decree all beach land is public and must be accessible — feel they have limited access to beaches in their region.
Sueta says the land behind the wall is the people’s land and “we have not sold it.” Attempts to get information from BTDC have been unproductive. He believes that a major international development just off the public beachfront will impose the same restrictions of access that apply in beach areas in front of Nusa Dua resorts.
With Sueta, The Bali Times tested accessibility. At the border of Nusa Dua Beach and Melia, a sign advises that entrants to Melia will be screened for security purposes. Yet The Bali Times party of three white expatriates passed with cheery reciprocal greetings to the security officer and was ushered on its way along the paved, hotel-front walkway.
Sueta, however, was stopped and told that hotel policy is that locals may not have access to the walkway, or to the beach. The security officer said all star-rated hotels along the Nusa Dua and Tanjung Benoa beachfront had the same policy.
We tested it. Next along is The Laguna, where the security officer (possibly alerted by his colleague from Melia) said they were focused on “profiling” but nevertheless reserved the right to deny anyone access to the walkway and the beach.
At the southern end, at Grand Hyatt, the firm policy according to the security attendant is that locals may use the beach but they may not use the hotel-constructed beachfront walkway. That means local leader Sueta may not jog on the track, but any “international tourist” may.
Back at “public” Nusa Dua Beach, Ni Sudiani has provided massage, hair-braiding and sarongs for 20 years, no doubt mostly to curious tourists who have ventured beyond the barrier between the public beach and Melia.
She has heard villas, a spa and wedding chapel will be built behind the wall. She has no concrete information, but she is certain she will no longer be welcome on the beach, and she has nowhere to go.
For 15 years, Ni Nyoman Sulasi and her husband have operated a cafe whose parkland aspect is now confined by the iron wall. Sulasi suspects the rumoured development, which may include a restaurant, will force her off the beach.
“We have nowhere to go,” she said. “How will we feed and educate our children?” The youngest of her four children is 18 months old.
She says the leader of the Nusa Dua Beach traders’ group, Paguyban Sekar Sari, has formally discussed the issue with BTDC. There have been no answers.