Mocking the Turtle

Jasa Marga Toll in Bali Moving Ahead to Build Giant Rest Area Suspended Over Once Protected Mangrove Wetlands Draws Fire from Environmental Groups

Plans by the management of Bali’s only toll road to construct a rest stop containing refreshment and entertainment over the mangrove wetlands in Benoa Bay has precipitated an angry reaction from the Island's environmental activists.

PT Jasa Marga Toll (JBT) recently announced plans to create new revenue streams for the loss-making toll road by building the Bedawang Nala Rest Area on the side of the current highway, adopting a design in accordance with its proposed name designating a large turtle.

As reported by Radar Bali, Wayan Gendo Suardana, the coordinator of ForBALI and a leading opponent to efforts to reclaim Benoa Bay, accused JBT of being a company that is relentless in its assault on the environment surrounding Benoa Bay. “From the very start, the impression is that this project has been forced (upon Bali). The reason given was to reduce traffic congestion in South Bali. When environmental problems were encountered, the project carried on undeterred,” said Gendo.

Gendo, who is also a member of the management council of The Indonesian Forum for Environment (Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia, WALHI),claimed the JBT project has been plagued by problems since its very inception. He said the toll road’s construction was built by ignoring the original official environmental impact study (Amdal), creating an amendment to the original study to permi dredging at several points to facilitate the installation of suspension pier foundations. The environmentalist claimed the original Amdal provided for no dredging activities, using only floating platforms for installing the supporting pier structure. Instead, JBT decided to dredge environmentally destructive roadways to be used for the road’s construction.

Looking back at the roadway’s construction, Gendo said the tactics used by JBT were patently “unfair”. Adding: “How can such a project violate the Amdal and not be hit with sanctions and then amend the Amdal to suit its purposes? The ecological effect was great and damaging to the people living around the Benoa Bay.”

Moreover, Gendo accuses JBT of not honoring the terms of the amended Amdal, leaving beind the dredged bottom soil resulting from the construction, and failing to return the dredged soil to the bottom of the bay. He continued, saying JBT has failed to keep its promise to plant mangrove vegetation on the sides of the current toll road. He acknowledge that limited plantings had been undertaken in the Bay, but the subject mangrove vegetation has not survived.

Gendo questions both JBT’s ability to keep its pledges made to the public and questions why, with the proposed construction of the Bedawang Nala Rest Area, it is venturing into creating business units outside its main line of enterprise?

Rather than embark on building the proposed rest area, Gendo called on JBT to instead honor outstanding promises and restore the dredged limestone back to the ocean’s floor and plant suitable vegetation in the wetlands surrounding the toll road. Adding: “PT JBT should not remain stone faced (when asked to keep its promises).”

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