Hundreds of truck drivers headed for Bali’s Gilimanuk Port from Banyuwangi, East Java reportedly protested the recent policy change on COVID-19 rapid testing in Bali, which now requires them to pay out of their own pocket.

“We cannot afford to pay,” Andung, a truck driver from Banyuwangi, said yesterday

“We can cross [from Ketapang Port], but once we reach Gilimanuk we will have to undergo a rapid test and pay. Otherwise they will turn us back to Java.” 

Travelers entering Bali, whether by flight or ship, are required to provide a statement of health indicating that they are COVID-19-negative. For those crossing from Ketapang to Gilimanuk, the letters should be based on the results of a rapid test. 

Bali Province previously accommodated the truck drivers by providing free rapid tests, but the policy changed as of yesterday morning based on a circular issued by the provincial government on June 16. 

“Bali COVID-19 Task Force will no longer provide free rapid testing for logistical vehicle crew in Gilimanuk and Padangbai ports, beginning on Thursday, June 18 at 8am. The logistical vehicle crew must bring their own rapid test statement,” Dewa Made Indra, regional secretary of the Bali Province, said in a statement on Wednesday. 

Drivers can undergo rapid testing in the facilities prepared by state-owned ferry operator ASDP Indonesia Ferry, which are available in both Ketapang and Gilimanuk. 

As a form of protest, the drivers parked their trucks on the side of the road and formed a long line of about two kilometers near the Sritanjung Terminal in Ketapang yesterday. 

Like Andung, a number of drivers speaking to various local media outlets also expressed the difficulty of sparing around IDR300,000 (US$21) for a one-time rapid test. Not only do they consider it to be expensive, the nature of their work would also require them to do the tests more than once. The drivers noted that the companies they work for will neither cover nor reimburse the extra expense for a test, which means they have to pay for the tests out of their own pockets. 

“I am delivering rice and other staple items. Let the people of Bali go hungry because we cannot cross,” Andung said. 

Some drivers are also protesting the abrupt policy change, saying that they were not informed ahead of time. However, Head of Bali Transportation Agency Samsi Gunarta claimed that they have been raising awareness on the matter since late May.

Read more news and updates from Bali here.

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