Unclear beach rules causing disarray

by Agnes Winarti on 2013-04-03

Breaking dawn: A boy runs along the Sanur shore in the morning while his family watches. The beach has long been a favorite weekend haunt for Denpasar’s residents. BD/Anggara MahendraBreaking dawn: A boy runs along the Sanur shore in the morning while his family watches. The beach has long been a favorite weekend haunt for Denpasar’s residents. BD/Anggara Mahendra

As the old saying goes: “Where there’s sugar, there are ants” and Sanur Beach has for years attracted a growing number of people, predominantly locals, to make a living from the bustling tourism along the stretch of white sandy beach best known for its spectacular sunrises.

For many newcomers, with some eventually residing in the area, the daily intimacy with the alive-and-kicking local culture is what sets Sanur apart from other beaches on the southern part of the island.

Among other things, there is the presence of the local vendors, offering various knick-knacks, local delights and by-the-beach services like hair braiding and massage, as well as diving and snorkeling, from rows of small stalls along the sand.

One might ask what would Sanur be without their presence, while others may argue that the ubiquitous semi-permanent stalls along the sandy beaches have spoiled the fun for visitors and prevent them from completely enjoying the scenic beach.

Earlier this year, a coordinating team for beach management was formed consisting of various interest groups, including the provincial administration’s agencies dealing with public works, environment and tourism, the regional development planning board (Bappeda) and the Bali-Penida river region office which is under the Public Works Ministry.

The team’s initial recommendation was to restore the earlier beach regulation, which would see the sandy beaches, which are about 20 meters from the water to the walkway, be free of all permanent establishments and serve as purely public domains.

“Previously, the reclaimed sandy beach should have been free of any establishments, especially permanent ones. But we have seen that several spots in Sanur are being used to erect stalls. The beach now appears untidy,” unit head for program and planning at the BWSBP, Cokorda Bagus Purnawarman, representing the coordinating team recently told local journalists on a media tour hosted by the consulate general of Japan.

A 5.1-kilometer stretch of Sanur’s coastline, stretching from Matahari Terbit Beach to Mertasari Beach, was part of the beach reclamation project in southern Bali conducted by the Public Works Ministry and funded by loans from the Japan International Cooperation agency (JICA). Overall, there were four beach reclamation projects, at Sanur, Nusa Dua, Tanah Lot and Kuta, all funded by Rp 870 billion (US$89.2 million) in JICA loans between 2001-2008.

Chairman of Yayasan Pembangunan Sanur (Sanur Development Foundation) Ida Bagus Gede Sidharta Putra, a respected figure in the Sanur community and a businessman, acknowledged nowadays he was seeing more improper uses along the stretches of Sanur, Sindhu and Semawang beaches. “Many motorcycles now improperly use the footpath, while the beach appears dirtier because of the increasing trash there,” he said sadly.

“Ever since the beach reclamation project was completed [in 2008], it was never clear who was to take the responsibility for maintaining it. We can’t deny that our residents make a living along the stretch of the beach.”

“What we need today is to have all stakeholders, including the provincial officials, the city officials and the local community, have the same understanding of how a beach is supposed to function and where the proper spot to place these vendors is, if relocation is deemed a must,” said Sidharta.

He recalled that sometime back, in 2006, a workshop had been hosted to discuss who would be the responsible authority for beach maintenance after the reclamation project was complete.

“The workshop concluded that the provincial administration was responsible for periodical maintenance every four years, while the daily maintenance, which includes garbage handling and vendor management, was the responsibility of the Denpasar administration and local community. However, implementation was never clear,” he said.

Head of Sanur traditional village Ida Bagus Anom Buana acknowledged that the village managed fewer than 100 vendors and stall owners along the beach strip.

“As a pakraman [traditional] village, our revenue mainly comes from the fees paid by these vendors. They contribute greatly to the village’s odalan [religious ceremonies] that could be held twice a year, and the annual maintenance of our three major pura [temples],” said Anom, stating that every year the village could spend at least Rp 200 million on such occasions.

Anom said the revenue was also used to pay the village’s 15 garbage-collecting personnel and some 30 security people. Sanur is home to some 800 families, or around 5,000 residents.

Anom, who has been bendesa (village head) for Sanur for the past 15 years, said the local vendors along the beach had been there even before he took his position.

“Jobs are scarce to find nowadays. These small vendors are our own residents, who can only make their living from the beach. I can’t imagine any place else to relocate them because their customers are here along this beach,” said Anom in a concerned tone.

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