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North Bali Airport in a Holding Pattern

Bali Seeking New North Bali Airport Site in Sumberklampok, Gerijgak

NusaBali reports how plans to build a second airport in Northeast Bali at Kubutambahan now appear highly doubtful after discovering that a large portion of the acreage needed for the air gateway is already under a long-term lease. This unexpected development has effectively sidelined any effort to acquire the land necessary for runways, terminals, and supporting facilities in that location.

With many in Bali fiercely committed to North Bali having its own international airport, the focus has now shifted to a second location in the Village of Sumberklampok in Gerokgak in Northwest Bali.

However, residents in Sumberkelampok are voicing their opposition to the creation of an airport in their area. The village elder (Perbekel) of Sumberklampok, I Wayan Sawitra Yasa, told the press that his constituents view the area planned for the airport is on the same land that is the object of a long-standing multi-party land dispute. Yasa says that property must be resolved before any plan for an airport can even be considered.

Perbekel of Sumberklampok, I Wayan Sawitra Yasa

Speaking to NusaBali on Friday, 16 October 2020, Sawitra warned, “Don’t let the long-standing unfinished problem (of our land dispute) become comingled with plans to build an airport in the Village of Sumberklambok.”

Sawitra Yasa confirmed that representatives from the Village of Sumberklampok had been invited on Tuesday, 13 October 2020, to the Officials Residence of Bali’s Governor, Wayan Koster, in Denpasar. At that meeting, the Governor communicated plans to shift the location of Bali’s New “Airport of the North” from Kubutambahan to Sumberklampok. Yasa said the change of place for the airport is made problematic by an inability to gain title over land for the Sumberklampok location that is now in dispute.

The Village Representatives came to the Governor’s Residence on the assumption a solution to the land dispute would be discussed. Sawitra Yasa said the nine village representatives were shocked when they learned that they were summoned to discuss the proposed airport and not resolve their claim on local lands. He said the villagers were not aware of the selection of their locale as a “second option” for a North Bali Airport. The villages are holding the Governor firm to his previously stated commitment to end the long-standing land dispute by compensating villages on a 70:30 ratio.

 “All must remain committed to the initial decision announced by the Governor. First, the ’70’ is fully handed over to the community in the form of a certificate of ownership. When the process is completed, then we can talk about the airport,” said Sawitra Yasa.

The land under dispute by the villager at Sumberklampok measure some 600 hectares, including 200 hectares held under HGU (Right to exploit) title. The second parcel of 267 hectares and the third parcel of 151 hectares owned by PT Margarana comprise the remaining land segments. 

Sawitra Yasa told the press: “The community is growing worried. Earlier, we had discussed a settlement under the Agrarian Reform Program. Teams have already been formed on a provincial and village level. But now that there is a surprise report that an airport will be built in Sumberklampok.”

In a separate but related development, 25 local residents confronted a group of individuals taking drone shots and extracting land samples in Sumberklampok on Thursday, 15 October 2020. Sawitra complained of the incident, saying: “On Thursday there were officials taking land measurements and making land bore samples without any permission from the landowner. This made the local citizens increasingly angry. The local people were not advised of this visit beforehand.”

If an airport is eventually established at Sumberklampok in North Bali, the new air gateway’s true necessity is automatically put in question by the fact it would only be some 40-kilometers away from the Recently Upgraded International Airport in Banyuwangi.

Sawitra Yasa said that the people living in Sumberkelampok are prepared to support the National Plan to build an airport in their area. If the proposed airport is to be built in this locale, they insist that the prolonged land ownership dispute must be settled first before any discussion can be held on freeing up land for the airport. Sawitra said that the interests of the local citizens must be addressed first and foremost.

The Regent of Buleleng, Putu Agus Suradnyana, told the press that his office would soon hold intensive meetings with the villagers at Sumberkelampok to find the best solution for all concerned.

If an airport is eventually established at Sumberklampok in North Bali, the new air gateway’s true necessity is immediately put in question by the fact it would only be some 40-kilometers away from the Recently Upgraded International Airport in Banyuwangi.

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