Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara. Lombok district authorities have begun work on improving roads and other essential infrastructure to support the island’s growing popularity as a tourist destination.
The roads linking the capital city of Mataram to West and North Lombok, where the bulk of key tourist areas are located, are not only too narrow but are also in poor condition, especially in the dangerous mountainous stretch of zig-zagging roads in the Pusuk area.
The road will be widened from the Gunung Sari subdistrict in West Lombok to the Pemenang subdistrict in North Lombok. This stretch of road, running via Pusuk Pass, is currently the only road linking the two districts.
In the meantime, Sujanadi said, district authorities have already begun work on building an alternative road linking the Senggigi coastal resort in West Lombok to Pemenang in neighboring North Lombok.
“Almost 70 kilometers of the new road in North Lombok has already been completed,” he said.
Sujanadi added that since tourism accounted for about 70 percent of the North Lombok district’s local revenue, “we will do whatever we can to assure greater comfort for tourists.”
The road leading to Pusuk Pass, a popular lookout spot with a panorama of the three Gili islands, is notorious for the troops of monkeys often seen coming out of the bordering forest, now becoming a hazard for traffic.
Tourist guides in the Senggigi beach resort area have also complained of frequent flooding on certain stretches of road, and piles of garbage accumulating near the entrance gate of the Senggigi resort.
The road to Mawun, a popular beach in Central Lombok’s south, is also severely damaged. Local resident Amet said the government had begun to repair the sides of the road, especially the embankments, but the many potholes had been left untouched.
However, Amet said, an alternative road is available. Authorities say road repairs on tourist routes are ongoing and are expected to be completed next year.
Landslides are a common problem for road users heading to Sembalun, another popular destination, on the slopes of the Rinjani mountain in East Lombok.
“The damage to bridges along the main road from Sembalun is disturbing. The bridges’ foundations are clearly being eroded by water, causing landslides, but the road has not been given the attention it needs,” said Jumala, a local farmer who uses the damaged stretch of road from Sembalun to sell his produce in Mataram.
Road users on that stretch have also complained of the posts set up by locals demanding money to clean the road and fill potholes. “It is true that they do not demand much, about Rp 2,000 (20 cents) for children and Rp 4,000 to Rp 5,000 for adults who pass the damaged road to Sembalun,” said Ecang, a Mataram resident.
Regarding the narrow stretch of road leading to Pusuk Pass, West Nusa Tenggara provincial government spokesman Lalu Moh Faozal said local authorities were having problems obtaining the necessary permit from forestry authorities to widen the road, as this would take up forest land.
“The provincial government is facing constraints in obtaining the necessary permits to widen the Pusuk Pass road since this stretch lays within a forest conservation park,” he said.
“Permission can only be granted by the central government, or in this case, the Forestry Minister, for the Pusuk Pass road to be widened,” Faozal said.
He added that Pusuk Pass was initially a subdistrict road but following the separation of North Lombok from West Lombok, the road had become a link for the two districts.
He said the road to Mawun and nearby Awang beach was also in bad shape because it supported frequent heavy traffic such as trucks heading to the Nusantara port. The road is currently under repair, with the work expected to be completed by mid-2011, Faozal said.