By Jero Wacik 3rd
Jan 30, 2007, 07:55
Ho hum, we should have expected it. First came news that the Indonesian authorities were building totally useless tsunami warning siren towers along various beaches in Bali (see: Bali Tsunami Warning System). As this clearly failed to bring the western tourist masses back, now comes the latest ministerial effort to hoodwink potential guests into coming to Bali. In December 2006 it was announced that the first of several “tsunami proof” buildings were to be built on or near Bali’s beaches which could be used to put people in the event of a tsunami!
Indonesian Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik is quoted as wobbling “The buildings will be built on beaches which can be used to evacuate tourists and locals in the event of tsunami”. The first building is to be in Nusa Dua of course, as that is where the Suharto’s have a high concentration of tourist hotels which are feeling the pinch at this time. Problem is, Nusa Dua covers a large area and correct us if we are wrong but the proposed location of this first tsunami building is nowhere near the hotels, or at least not close enough to be in walking distance from the main hotels. As a side note, aren’t locals unlawfully prohibited from being on Nusa Dua’s beaches anyway, so how will this shelter be used to evacuate “locals” as there are none allowed in the area.
Jeri also went on to say “escape buildings for other coastal areas would be built in stages depending on the availability of the ministry's budget while welcoming local administrations who wanted to build their own facilities with their own budget.” So first, only one shelter is to be built in Nusa Dua? Ok, each shelter allegedly will accommodate 400 to 500 people which is the occupancy of one Nusa Dua hotel; which hotel’s guests get lucky? Second, so hopefully other people will build these shelters from their own pockets, not the government? Also, by what standard are these buildings to be tsunami proof? Because they will not only need to face potentially 30 meter high waves travelling at over one hundred miles per hour as they did in Aceh, but also the 8 to 9 on the Richter scale earthquake that would precede the tsunami 20 minutes before it comes ashore; as you can see, the fault line lies not far off Bali’s southern coast and main tourist resort areas.
Not only should there be questions as to whether the shelter structure can be both earthquake and tsunami proof, given quakes destroy rigged buildings while tsunamis would destroy the more flexible buildings capable of taking an 8.7 quake, as occurred further up the coast in Indonesia not so very long ago. The question also should be “Why build a ‘tsunami safe’ structure, why not make the hotels tsunami safe?” Isn’t this all an admission the hotels in Nusa Dua and indeed Bali as a whole were built outside strict building code compliance? Isn’t this in fact a sad statement that the hotels in Nusa Dua will all be destroyed in the event of an earthquake before the tsunami comes ashore and washes it all away?
This being the case no-one is likely to be able to make the tsunami shelter in such a short amount of time (20 minutes from when the earthquake strikes, 10 minutes from when the tsunami warning system goes off) given the devastation that would surround everyone, probably trapped in collapsed hotels! Then of course the hotel staff will all be so disciplined so as to gather guests together and get them to the shelter before the wave comes ashore? US$50 a month hotel staff not renowned for their quick thinking and fast reactions are going to see the guests to safety within 10 minutes of the siren going off? There are not going to run for their lives and say “screw them” like the ferry captain did leaving 600 passengers to die struggling to find life jackets (see Indonesian Ferry Disaster)?
But the final insult to all this is why the Indonesian Government and Balinese authorities and hoteliers and travel agents are all keen to have these “shelters”. It is not for the reasons they tell potential foreign visitors either. It is not so you will be safe in Bali, it is so you will feel safe enough to come to Bali to spend you money. Unfortunately for them Indonesian politicians are as stupid as they are nasty. Indonesian Culture and Tourism Minister Jero said “This will accelerate the ministry's program to provide safe and secure feelings for holidaymakers”. That is right, he let it slip out. This is nothing to do with being safe. You as a human being count for nothing past what you have in your wallet in Bali. Do yourself and them a favour; go on holiday somewhere else where they respect your human rights. Don’t give a single cent of yours to these Indonesian liars, Nusa Dua does nothing, repeat nothing for Bali; don't kid yourself you are helping the Balinese by going there.