Ubud continues to struggle with traffic
The once quiet Ubud art village in Gianyar is now facing gigantic traffic problems and a rising number of visitors.
Gianyar Regent Tjokorda Ardha Ardana Sukawati is facing a serious headache as more and more vehicles traverse the village’s narrow and winding lanes.
“The flood of people coming to our village indicates that our promotional activities have been quite successful,” Sukawati, or Cok Ace, told the Bali Daily recently.
“But we have to admit that we have not been ready to provide adequate infrastructure to accommodate the skyrocketing number of people and vehicles coming to this small village,” said Cok Ace, head of the Ubud royal house.
Being famous as an art village and culture-based tourist destination, Ubud was named the best city in Asia by US-based travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler, based on readers’ choices.
“Ubud is now transforming from a quiet village into a metropolitan tourist hub, with a sprawl of glittering boutiques, eating establishments and art galleries,” he said.
Several efforts have been put in place to ease traffic congestion and to give more space to pedestrians.
The Gianyar administration intends to build a new central parking lot to solve the traffic problems. By providing a parking area, the government expects there to be no more cars and other vehicles parked along the narrow streets.
“The problem is we cannot easily find places for parking lots. Ubud is too crowded,” he said.
The administration had actually planned to build a 1,000-vehicle central parking facility in the basement of Ubud Square. “This is an ideal concept, to build a basement parking site. So the square can be used for many activities,”
Unfortunately, the administration has had to delay construction of the parking area due to the very high cost. The construction had been estimated at Rp 120 billion (US$12.72 million). “The estimated cost was too high and we couldn’t allocate the funding from our annual regional budget [APBD]. We are still trying to attract third parties to invest,” he said.
Cok Ace, however, was pessimistic that there would be an investor willing to invest in the project. “Most cars here were parked along the streets in the morning and leave the area in the afternoon. Investors see this as a poor investment; it is costly to build a parking lot,” the regent said.
“We will not give up the plan and will work harder to find interested parties,” he added.
That was the long-term plan for Ubud. Cok Ace was ready with a short-term solution, encouraging local people to set up their own parking sites within their own properties. “The house or shop owners can generate money from their parking business,” Cok Ace commented.
Another temporary attempt to solve the traffic problem is to renovate Ubud traditional market near Ubud Royal Palace.
The traditional art market kiosks could be redesigned to face the inside of the market. The number of stores would be limited to 294 and a spacious piazza around the market would be built to enable tourists and locals to relax.
Currently, the market has 500 kiosks.
“We also plan to construct an alternative road and bridge on the northern side of the palace this year.”