Rain for New Year’s Eve Predicted: Bali

Tourists planning to welcome in the new year in Bali might have to celebrate indoors, with the meteorology and geophysics agency predicting the resort island will continue to experience heavy rains until at least February. Rain has poured down across the island for the past few days, triggering a landslide that killed a Gianyar couple Wednesday just weeks before they were due to be married. The landslide in Gianyar also forced the evacuation of 13 families living in the agriculture office’s housing complex in Pesanggaran.

In Denpasar, heavy rains have caused traffic congestion, with several flood-prone areas inundated with water as Wasti Atmodjo writes.

Denpasar city administration spokesman, Erwin Suryadarma, said a 40-member task force set up two years ago to deal with floods had been kept busy in recent weeks.

He said members of the task force had been deployed to assist affected residents, as well as take preventive measures such as clearing gutters and preparing sandbags.

He said the administration has set aside Rp 3.5 billion in next year’s budget to deal with natural disasters, down from Rp 5 billion this year.

Erwin said disaster relief funds allocated in next year’s budget were less than in previous years when the government had been focused on repairing damaged infrastructure.

Floodwaters have also inundated the popular tourist area of Kuta in recent days, forcing motorists to drive slowly through puddles of water that have formed on major roads.

Rain has also driven tourists away from several tourist sites in the heart of Bali.

Riska and her friends, who traveled from Jakarta to Bali for their holidays, have been unable to enjoy the various water sports on offer in the Tanjung Benoa area of Nusa Dua.

“We wanted to try everything, from banana boat rides to parasailing. But the weather has forced us to find other activities.

“Rather than spending all of our time at the hotel, we decided to go shopping,” said Riska.

The marketing and communications manager of the Hard Rock Hotel in Bali, Dewi Banowati, said many guests at the hotel were opting to stay indoors.

“Most of our hotel guests are conducting their activities inside and rarely go out. They are packing the hotel’s facilities, including the spa, gym and game zone,” she said.

Souvenir traders, who had hoped for a busy Christmas, have complained about slow business in recent days.

Nasution, a handicraft trader at the Legian Kelod art market in Kuta, said his daily turnover had been 50 percent less than usual.

“I usually earn between Rp 500,000 and Rp 1 million per day, but so far today I have had no buyers at all,” he told Antara.

In other regencies, heavy rain has also disrupted traffic and tourist activities.

Nyoman Satiana, the head of the regency’s environment and sanitation office, said motorists should exercise caution in the areas of Kerambitan, East Selemadeg, Selemadeg and West Selemadeg.

“These four districts are particularly prone to trees falling down,” he said.

The head of the meteorology and geophysics agency’s data and information division, Sutrisno, said the wild weather of the past few days in Bali was a sign of things to come.

The rainy season will most likely reach its peak in January and February next year, he said.