The central government and the local administration are deliberating a plan to expand the role of Benoa, the island’s largest ferry harbor in Southern Denpasar.
They are looking into possibilities to convert the harbor into an export-import port, a move that is expected to boost the island’s trade and industry sector.
Industry Minister M. S. Hidayat expressed his support of the idea of giving Bali its own export-import port.
“The central government has designated Bali as an acceleration point for eastern Indonesia economic and tourism development.
“Such a role requires the island to have a sufficient export-import port,” he said during his visit last week.
“I have asked several relevant agencies to carry out the necessary review and I have also informed the local administration to select one of the existing harbors to be developed into an export-import port and begin processing the port license with the central government,” he added.
Bali has four major ports: Gilimanuk, Padangbai, Benoa and Celukan Bawang. The first two mainly serve ferries and passenger vessels while Benoa has served as a cargo port with limited capacity.
The last port lies in the northern coastal regency of Buleleng and used to be the island’s main cargo port.
“I think Benoa will be the best option. It already has good supporting infrastructure and all we need to do is expand the port facilities,” he said.
He added that Bali and its neighboring provinces of West Nusa Tenggara and East Nusa Tenggara had yet to establish their own export-import ports.
Benoa harbor authority PT Pelindo III general manager Iwan Sabatini acknowledged that Benoa mainly served as a passenger and fishing port.
“The harbor capacity to serve as a cargo port for inter-island trade has not been fully exploited,” he added.
Benoa could not assume the role of an export-import port due to existing government legislation that limits the number of such ports in the country.
“Only several major harbors in Indonesia are licensed to serve export-import cargo and Benoa is not on that list,” he said.
Most of the island’s producers export their products via Tanjung Perak port in East Java, while a small number send products via Ngurah Rai airport.
Having to send products using land transportation to East Java affects the cost the exporters must pay and eventually increases the base price of the product itself.
This arrangement also aggravates traffic congestion along the main provincial highways.
“Benoa is ready to assume the role as an export-import port,” Iwan said.
Benoa was recognized as “Best Port Welcome 2010” last March by Dream World Cruise Destination, a London-based magazine.