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No Ships on Tanah Ampo’s Horizon

Reflections in Bali Post on the Failed Tanah Ampo International Cruise Terminal
The Bali Post recently revisited the Tanah Ampo International Cruise Terminal Project in the East Bali region of Karangasem via an article titled “The Regency Remains Optimistic, Local Residents Resigned.”

The report relates the disappointment of the people of the village of Tanah Ampo, Manggis in Karangasem on their government’s failure to deliver on its promise to create a viable international cruise terminal to drive the local economy.

More than Rp. 155 billion (US$13.5 million) of public funds has been expended on building the port that remains uncompleted and off the itinerary of international cruise ships. Similarly, Rp. 600 million (US$52,000) taken from public budgets to build an arts market for visiting cruise passengers has been shifted into a makeshift and poorly attended traditional handicrafts market and public market.

The pet project of the Regent of Karangasem, long-time local residents were more or less compelled to surrender ancestral farming land to make way for construction of the terminal and access roads.

A local community leader, Nyoman Sadra, told Bali Post how land handed over under protest to the Government to build roads to the port were also promised that land titles would be changed without charge by the Regency. In fact, this promise has not been kept with compensation for their ancestral lands unpaid and tax bills for these same lands, now occupied by public roads, being charged to the villagers.

Championed since 2008 by Karangasem’s Regent I Wayan Geredeg as a facility destined to become “the biggest cruise port in Southeast Asia.” Rushing ahead, Geredeg sought to acquire land, build access roads and construct port buildings and other supporting facilities. While this was happening ashore, the Central Government rushed to build a 150-meter long pier.

Sadly, subsequent investigations by State Auditors indicate that the Central and Regional governments have built structures on land to which they hold no title.

The dock built at a high cost with State Funds is inadequate both in strength, length and overall design to allow cruise ships to berth. Floating pontoons, inexpertly built to facilitate the transition of passengers from ships tenders to the new pier have been insufficient to that tasked and washed away in the strong waves striking the shores in East Java. The few ship’s that have tried to land passengers at the Tanah Ampo Terminal have complained about the poor infrastructure and now divert to the better situated and better equipped Port of Benoa in South Bali.

While the Wayan Geredeg as Regent of Karangasem remains optimistic that the plans to make a world class cruise terminal at Tanah Ampo can still be realized, the public continues to live in an atmosphere of relative poverty and unfulfilled promises.

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