Subsidised flights, mobile communications, and medical personnel: how Government programs bring tangible benefits to the people of Trikora, Papua

The pioneering subsidized flight in Jayawijaya last year. ANTARA/Marius Frisson Yewun

The Government has launched various programs in an effort to alleviate difficulties faced by communities, such as the citizens of the remote Trikora District in Jayawijaya Regency, Papua Province, who previously faced hardships even to purchase basic necessities due to their isolated location.

A major breakthrough to reach the region is through subsidised pioneer flights. Such a program would have limited impact in regions more easily accessible by land, air, or sea but invaluable to one as inaccessible as Trikora District, which lies deep in the interior of Papua. Its isolated location, far from the coast meant that many in the community have never seen boats, let alone know how goods can be distributed through the Government’s Sea Toll program. Many people in the district’s six villages have never even seen motor vehicles which are commonplace in cities such as Jayapura due to there being no roads due to the difficult geography.

Prior to the initiation of the subsidised flight program, members of the community faced serious challenges in acquiring basic necessities such as salt, sugar, and rice. To do so, they must trek to the capital Jayawijaya through narrow roads and dense forests, on a journey that takes between four nights to a week. After purchasing the goods and now being heavily burdened, their return trip is invariably longer and more arduous.

The six villages in Trikora are located behind a mountain and a valley, and also borders the Nduga Regency. To reach Keneyam, the Nduga Regency’s capital would require an equally grueling journey as the one to Jayawijaya.  The community, which does not yet have electricity, has only one airfield located in Anggolok village. Airfields constructed in three other villages have yet to be completed and are currently unusable. One airfield being constructed in Nanggo is 200 metres long, and will be very useful for distributing basic necessities to the community once it is operational, doing away with the need to undertake long journeys on foot.

These subsidised flights also make it easier for the Government to distribute aid to the local communities, although they cannot be transported directly to each individual village, and must be distributed at the airfield in Anggolok.

“We convey our gratitude to the Government for sending us aid using the flights. We are grateful that we can receive (basic necessities) because the journey from Trikora to Nduga takes four nights, so it is difficult to get industrial goods,” said Anggoma Kalolik, an intellectual figure in Trikora.

The community hopes that gradually, the Government can complete the airfields in other villages, to allow subsidised flights to land there. This will allow the distribution of aid and basic necessities to reach every village, with transportation costs that are lower than that of hiring a helicopter, which can total IDR 40 to 50 million.

They also hope that the flights, which are currently scheduled twice a week, can increase in frequency to once a day, so that gradually their welfare can be enhanced, like in the other 39 districts in the regency.

Communications

The people of Trikora are now able to use mobile phones to communicate with relatives living in other regions due to the government’s completion of a telecommunications network in most regencies in Papua.

Although they are still unable to access sites such as Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram like the citizens of the city centres, the people of Trikora are glad that they are now able to communicate with their faraway relatives.

The phones will also allow better communications with the Government. For example, when it comes time to deliver aid, the Government can inform the community by phone in advance so that the district or village heads can gather their citizens to pick up the aid to immediately take home. For Government programs such as elections, the organisers can inform the community ahead of time so that they can gather at the specified date to vote for their local leaders, and even the President during national elections.

Another much appreciated program is the aid for kiosks for the villages in Trikora. According to Nikolas Itlay, the head of the Jayawijaya Social Services, the aid for the Remote Traditional Communities (KAT) has been disbursed this year, which is only possible with small planes or helicopters. The aid, which comes from the Special Autonomy funds will be sustained in the years to come so that the community living in one of the highest points in Indonesia (Trikora Peak) can feel that the Government is there with them.

Health services

One year after the COVID-19 pandemic drained the local government’s funds, health services for the local community have halted, an unfortunate situation that the local government has continuously tried to remedy. To revitalise health services, the government plans to send doctors and nurses to the district in 2023. The medical personnel will provide services for more than three months in Trikora, and will then be replaced by other medical personnel once they have completed their duties.

Before the pandemic, the local government was able to allocate funds to charter helicopters and small planes to transport medical personnel and medicines. The personnel do not live in the health centres, as none have been constructed in the area.

“Next year we focus only on Trikora, so all the money we have proposed will be used to fund medical personnel in Trikora,” said Dr. Willy Mambiew, Head of the Jayawijaya Health Service.

The difficult terrain of Papua province has not discouraged the country’s leaders from helping the community to develop. The tangible effects are being felt by the people of Trikora, as the Government shows care for their citizens, no matter how difficult they are to reach.

Adapted from: Marius Frisson Yewun, “Upaya konkret pemerintah yang kian dirasakan warga Trikora Papua”, Antara, https://www.antaranews.com/berita/3234825/upaya-konkret-pemerintah-yang-kian-dirasakan-warga-trikora-papua

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