BALI, INDONESIA — Governor Wayan Koster of Bali has prohibited the rental and usage of motorbikes by foreign tourists during their stay in Bali.
He asserts that foreign nationals frequently drive recklessly on Bali’s roads, resulting in accidents, some of which have even resulted in fatalities.
As stated by Koster during a press conference at the Bali Regional Office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights on Sunday (12 March), the rule prohibiting foreign tourists from renting motorbikes in Bali will take effect this year. Thereafter, visitors are expected to utilize transportation services provided by the tourism industry that meet certain criteria to ensure respectable and high-quality tourism.
It is unclear how the ban would be upheld. However, Koster has requested the legal ministry’s assistance to enable Bali to cancel visas for foreign visitors who engage in activities such as riding motorcycles or violating their stay permits by working illegally.
The announcement of the ban came in response to several social media posts reporting that a considerable number of foreign tourists in Bali were breaking traffic regulations, including reckless driving, not wearing helmets, and using counterfeit license plates.
Additionally, it was revealed that many foreign tourists ride motorbikes without wearing shirts and riding a motorcycle while facing each other.
Kompas reports that Bali Police records indicate that between late February and early March 2023, over 171 foreign nationals were found guilty of violating traffic regulations.
Reportedly, a Russian national struck a local resident, causing injuries to both parties, and they were both hospitalised. The situation escalated when the foreign tourist fled the hospital to evade responsibility, despite still receiving treatment for a fractured right hand that resulted from the accident.
In separate incidents, two foreign nationals — one Ukrainian and the other Russian — lost their lives within a week in different traffic accidents in Bali. Both were riding a motorbike when they lost control and fell into a river, resulting in their tragic demise.
A few days ago, a woman, who was not wearing a helmet, was captured in a viral video having an argument with a policeman. She declined to stop and fled before the police could give her a ticket for the violation.
However, according to Dedek Warjana, the Chairman of the Bali Motorbike Rental Association (PRM), the proposed plan to ban motorbikes on Bali’s roads is premature and could negatively affect the recovery of motorbike rental business owners from the COVID-19 pandemic. He also highlighted the lack of public transportation on the island and questioned the government’s preparedness to provide an alternative solution to the ban.
Warjana further stated that the ban could worsen the traffic situation on Bali’s roads. Instead of a ban, he noted that the Bali Provincial Government should focus on enforcing existing regulations and penalising those who violate them, whether they are foreign tourists or local residents.
Authorities have also requested that the central immigration agency cancel the visa-on-arrival policy for Russian and Ukrainian nationals following the discovery of instances of illegal work by tourists.
According to official tourism data, Russian nationals constitute one of the largest groups of foreign visitors to Indonesia.
This month, at least four Russian citizens were deported for visa violations, and immigration officials have issued repeated warnings to foreigners in Bali against engaging in work activities while on tourist visas.
On Sunday, Koster requested that the Ministry of Law and Human Rights strengthen visa requirements by cancelling the visa-on-arrival facility for Russian and Ukrainian citizens.
According to an immigration agency Instagram post, Koster stated that individuals from these countries have travelled to Bali, either seeking solace or work, as they are in conflict.
He further noted that citizens of these two countries have committed more significant offenses than those from other nations, leading to their selection for tighter visa regulations.