With red-and-white flags in their hands, the workers jumped onto the copper and steel structure. Their faces beamed with unbridled joy and soon their chants filled the 4-hectare plot in Ungasan, south Bali, which had served as their adoptive home in the last four years.
It was a moment of mixed emotions for the 150 workers from Siluet Nyoman Nuarta (SNN), the company tasked with constructing the country’s tallest statue, the Garuda Wisnu Kencana. A majority of them hail from Bandung and other regions in West Java. In the last four years, they’ve had to live separately from their loved ones as they assembled the statue’s 754 modules in SNN’s on-site workshop atop a hill in Ungasan.
The statue was crafted at SNN’s main facility in Bandung, but its sheer size made it impossible to transport it to Bali as a single unit. It was separated into 754 modules and transported on flatbeds to the workshop. There, the modules were cut into 1,500 smaller pieces to accommodate the cranes’ maximum load. The GWK weighs 3,000 tons.
The cranes lifted the pieces into their designated spot along the statue’s massive steel inner core. The workers meticulously welded them together, a job that required both mental and physical acuity. Most of the welding jobs took place 100 meters above the ground where wind speeds often reached 10 knots — powerful enough to move a 2-ton module hanging on a crane.
On that historic Tuesday afternoon, the workers danced and chanted on and around the 1,500th piece. Their hearts are filled with pride of having completed a very difficult task and with the joy of realizing they would soon reunite with their families. Renowned sculptor Nyoman Nuarta, who designed the statue, watched the workers’ celebration with a smile on his face. There was joy in his eyes and a hint of sadness, too.There used to be 1,500 pieces of copper structures there.
It is the world’s third-tallest statue after the 153-m-tall Spring Temple Buddha in Henan, China, and the 130-m-tall Laykyun Setkyar Standing Buddha in Myanmar. The design and materials, had undergone various integrity tests, including a wind tunnel test that revealed the statue could withstand winds with speeds of up to 259 knots. In Bali, the highest recorded wind speed was 70 knots.
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