In the Public Interest?

Benoa Port Scheduled for Completion in August is Haunted by a Number of Serious Legal Issues

Beritabali.com reports that the enlargement and rebuilding of Bali’s Port of Benoa is now nearly 70% complete.

The Regional CEO for Bali and Nusa Tenggara for Pelindo III, I Wayan Eka Saputra, said on Wednesday, May 29, 2019: “The development in the Benoa Port area is now 70%. In August, all construction will be finished including the gated entrance and other elements all in accordance with the established schedule.”

Saputra said that all the development of the Port area was done in the interest of the public and Bali tourism.  Adding, “This was done so we can support cruise ship berthing in Bali, such as in March of this year when two ships were able to berth at the same time due to the enlarged pier at the Port of Benoa, which for us was a major achievement.”

Saputra is confident that the successful handling of large ships will pave the way for more ship visits in the future.

The Pelindo CEO describe a “multiplier effect” with more ship visits creating more business opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses in Bali, more work for local travel agents, and shopping activities by thousands of ships passengers disembarking for a day in Bali.

While Ayan Eka Saputra pledged to work to continually improve the Benoa Port, major legal obstacles may loom ahead for Pelindo as the Port of Benoa Manager due to a number of legal cases involving the port.

Local environmentalists in Bali represented by WALHI and ForBALI recently won a freedom of information case against Pelindo that will compel the state-owned port operator to divulge details on all licenses and permits required under law for the Port’s operation. In the past, efforts to make public the required environmental impact study were resisted by Pelindo whose formal response was that the development of the Port “was being done in the public interest” – suggesting that formal environmental studies in connection with the development were therefore, in Pelindo's opinion, unnecessary. A win before the courts affirming the right of the public to view all environmental studies is awaiting execution fulfillment by Pelindo III.

If, as some have suggested, the required environmental studies were never performed this would call into questions the very existence of the entire multi-million dollar development and place Pelindo at risk of having to undo an “illegal” and environmentally unsafe reclamation of the bay at a cost of many millions of dollars.

Making the legal situation even murkier is a separate major case involving illegal payments allegedly made to the port to obtain the required licensing for the Port’s reconstruction. In that case, Rp. 16 billion is claimed to have been paid to local legislators and the son of the former Governor of Bali in order to obtain the subject permits, which may or may not have been issued.

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