Tourists, experts reject ‘Great Wall’ of Kuta
Danny Yatim, a frequent visitor to Bali, was startled when he saw a “great wall” being built along the once-pristine Kuta Beach.
Over the last few months, Badung regional administration has been constructing a two-meter concrete fence made from white sandstones, which some said has also hidden the beauty of the white sands and great waves of Kuta Beach.
The project is estimated to cost over Rp 4 billion (US$444,000) to complete is intended to protect Kuta and Legian area from tidal and sea abrasion. Fences that will span more than 1,500 meters will be built along Kuta and Legian Beach, Bali’s most famous tourist destinations.
“For those travelling to Kuta, here’s another weird development that I call ‘Kuta Wall’. If you are driving, riding, walking, strolling on the main road or sipping coffee at a ground floor cafe, you can no longer see the blue ocean. So, sorry guy, just enjoy the wall,” shared Danny.
Dozens of people shared unfavorable comments on the “Kuta Wall” on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
“I just wonder why the local government is building such an environmentally unfriendly construction,” Danny said.
Visitors could only view the wall instead of the beautiful beach when strolling along Kuta area, he added.
Kuta resident and activist Asanna Vibeke Lengkong said that the local administration should not build such a wall.
“They could plant trees or other vegetation to protect the areas from abrasion.
“[Kuta Beach] can still look friendly, open and beautiful,” Lengkong said.
Kuta and Legian are located in Badung regency, the richest of the island’s eight regencies and mayoralties.
“[Badung administration] has a lot of money and they do not know how to spend it. Nothing is spent on the poor or for education. They should spend it on education, health and people’s welfare instead of building such a wall,” Lengkong said.
The walls were built using traditional elaborate Balinese architectural motifs.
The gates in front of Hard Rock Hotel were built in homage to Bentar Temple in a style reserved for royal palaces, big temples and important buildings. The construction of the gates near the hotel cost
Rp 500 million, she said.
Badung administration spokesman I Gede Wijaya said that the walls were built with three principals in mind.
First, Wijaya said that previous fences, which had been comprised of stone walls and plants, did not reflect Balinese architectural motifs.
Second, many tourists lodged complaints that Kuta Beach produces abundant sand storms during the rainy season.
Third, Wijaya said that Bentar Temple and the walls could be beautiful backdrops for photographers. “We do not take the protests seriously. It’s common for people to do that. We did outreach programs prior to starting construction,” Wijaya said.
Project head Retno Hapsari said that she has already consulted with all stakeholders in Kuta, including hotel owners, community leaders and other related parties.
“All of them agreed to the project,” she argued.
Noted architect Yoka Sara said that the construction of concrete walls at public facilities was not necessary.
“True Balinese architecture has no need for fences in public places such as markets, cemeteries and other public areas,” Sara said.
The development of fences and gates using the grand styles of Balinese architecture is a waste of money and not functional, she added.
“It is easy for the local administration to spend money unwisely. The buildings should not be designed with such an elaborate style. Physically, the walls create uncomfortable and unfriendly atmosphere for visitors,” Sara said.