New Face of Indonesia-PNG Cross Border Post

The newly polished Indonesia-Papua New Guinea (PNG) integrated border post in Skouw, Papua is now being a new tourist destination as ordered by President Joko Widodo. The building that stands as the border of Indonesia and PNG looks different than ever before. Officially opened on May 2017, it was built and designed with the cultural taste of Skouw.

The twin building outer design, a replication of entangled spouses, symbolizes the value of unity. Other distinguished cultural patterns and symbols are also embellished on every side of the building. Not only Skouw patterns, we can also find gecko patterns as a symbol of people in the border as well as a shield design on it.

Second Stage Construction

Currently, the main zone of Skouw border post includes the building which has been officially launched. Meanwhile, the construction of the second zone has begun and is expected to finish by the end of this year. The second stage construction includes the building of a church, a mosque, a market with 400 stands, a plenary hall, Wisma Indonesia (Indonesian House), and residential area for the staffs, police and military officers. The security fences and sea cliff’s fences would be built consecutively. Once the fences are erected, there would be no opening for illegal routes, eliminating the possibility of illegal border crossers.

“The first stage construction has completed. The second stage has reached 80 percent and to be wrapped up this year. There is two-hectares area for the national development,” Frans Imbiri, the Deputy of Skouw Border Post Area Development, explained in Muara Tami District, Jayapura (24/5).

Tourist Site and School’s Visit Destination

Not only Skouw Integrated Border Post is a symbol of a rapid development in border area, it is hyped as a new tourist site. Looking back to the old days, most border areas are usually crowded by visitors only during the market days. Now, there is no day without visitors coming from all regions, simply to take photos around the border post.

In order to anticipate the increasing numbers of visitors, the building of public toilets is included in the development agenda. Currently, there have been 10 toilets available inside the main building, and the construction for 10 additional toilets outside the building will soon be started.

Administrator of Skouw Integrated Border Post, Yan Z. Numberi said that President Jokowi instructed that this border post should be made as a new tourist destination. Therefore, people from any region can come and see. According to Yan, tourists’ enthusiasm is lived up after the post launching a year ago.

“Before the construction, the area was only used to cross the border. Not many people passing by here. But now thousands of people from all area of Indonesia visit it as a tourist destination,” Yan explained.

Most of the visitors come to the border post to take pictures of several unique and distinguished spots, such as the SKOUW sign in front of the post, the red-white Border Post of Indonesia sign, the front-side of the Garuda statue, and green areas around the post as well as the border gate. Some even asked the military officers to take picture together.

Not only tourists, groups of students often come to witness the new building of Skouw integrated border post. One of the groups visiting the border on the weekend are children from Children Empowerment Center in Skanto District, Keerom Regency. Those kids wearing green uniform walk along the border area to the neutral zone between Indonesia and PNG while listening to the the tour guide.

“We want to show the children the border and the monument. Many children haven’t been here before, thus we want to introduce them to our country’s border,” Yusfita, the tutor explained.



A Morning Leisure talks between Jokowi and Papuan Student in New Zealand

On the sidelines of the Indonesian President work visit to New Zealand, Jokowi took his time for a leisurely walk at Wellington Waterfront Pier. He wasn’t alone, he was accompanied by the Coordinating Minister of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, Wiranto, State Secretary Pratikno, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, and Indonesian Ambassador to New Zealand Tantowi Yahya. Not only that, Indonesian students in New Zealand, which dozens of them are Papuan, participate in the morning entourage with Jokowi.

In the middle of the walk, the students had time for a dialog with the President. Marvey Ayomi, “Coordinator of Children of Papua in New Zealand”, appreciated the efforts of the Jokowi government in boosting infrastructure development in Papua.

Although is not easy, he believes Jokowi government has seriousness in building Papua. “It is not easy, I myself as a Papuan knows that to take care of Papua and the people of Papua is not easy, therefore we appreciate it,” he said on Monday (19/3).

Marvey asked Jokowi to continue the development in Papua. There is one demand for infrastructure that he has requested to be encouraged in Papua; an international airport, thus “if we want to return to Papua we don’t need to transit in Bali or Jakarta, but directly to Papua,” he said.


Two Papuan Young Women Becomes the Two First Female Papuan Pilot for Indonesia

During his meeting with the Indonesians students in Wellington, New Zealand, it was mentioned that two Papuan young women are studying in a Pilot Academy in New Zealand. The two young woman will become the two first female pilots from Papua and will work for Garuda Indonesia airlines.

This information was revealed by the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to New Zealand, Tantowi Yahya. “Mr President, I would like to inform you that two graduated girls from the pilot academy, are in the final process to become Garuda’s pilots” said Tantowi. “So we will have the first two female pilots from Papua and and for Garuda Indonesia,” added Tantowi who was then applauded by the President Jokowi and the First Lady Iriana.

Excerpts from the Article “”Creating Connectivity and Opening Isolation in Papua”

Second Corporal Eko Prasetyo (31 years old) serves in the Indonesian Army Infantry Battalion 754/Eme Neme Kangasi (ENK) in Papua and was assigned to Kenyam District, Jayawijaya Regency, Papua.  It takes him about three hour drive to travel 50 kilometres from his residence on Jalan Trans Nabire Mile 32, Kuala Kencana District, Timika to Kenyam District.  Eko explained that he is in charged for security issues for two weeks in Kenyam District.  Eko, who has been working for 12 years in Timika, has been repeatedly assigned the special task of safeguarding the security from separatist disturbances, including maintaining PT Freeport’s assets.

For two weeks in Kenyam District, Eko circumnavigated the area and took a walk along the recently completed Trans Papua Road.  The existence of the Trans Papua Road has help to open up this region from isolation.  Before, local residents would prefer to take air or water transportation to neighbouring districts rather than take the land route since the natural conditions are difficult to pass.  The government is building a four lane road (two lanes going the opposite direction) to help developed better access for local communities.  The road project was started by the Indonesian Army Corps of Engineers which cleared the trees for the road and continued by the Ministry of Public Works and Housing which paved the roads.  Not all sections of the Trans Papua Road have been paved though.

According to Eko, even when the Trans Papua Road is not completed you can already see increase economic activities as the result of the road project.  The road has shortened the distance between parts of Papua.  He continued, the existence of Trans Papua Road is like a toll road in Java. As a result, vehicles can accelerate as they like while enjoying the bonus of incredible natural scenery.

“The last section has not been paved, I do not know whether it has been paved yet since  this section should connect with the section passed by President Jokowi with (former) Commander in Chief while riding motorcycles trying the road,” said Eko.

On May 5, 2017, President Jokowi was accompanied by Army Officers and members of the Cabinet on a trail bike reviewing the 7 km Wamena-Habeman road project. Jokowi admitted that the difficult terrain in Papua has become an obstacle as well as a challenge for the development of infrastructure projects.

Economic Growth

The Trans Papua road extends from Sorong, West Papua to Merauke, Papua along 4,330 km or almost six times the length of Jakarta-Surabaya. The National Strategic Project is targeted to be completed by 2019. The project that has been carried out since President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) era, has been intensified since President Jokowi was elected as the President of the Republic of Indonesia in 2014.

Until now, the Ministry of Public Works and Housing together with the Army Corps of Engineers continue to work on completing the construction of the last section of the Trans-Papua Road that has not been connected for about 479.04 km (11 percent). In fact, the initial target that has not been connected until the end of this year amounted to 366.2 km or eight percent.  Minister of Public Works and Housing Basuki Hadimuljono said, the construction of Trans Papua Road is very difficult and challenging, such as through the mountains, forests, ravines, and rivers, which makes the work not easy at all.

Constraints are often faced in the field, the weather conditions and tough environment so that officials often have difficulty bringing materials and heavy equipment to the location.  “Trans Papua’s development does not merely link the Papua Province with West Papua but opens up isolated regions or areas and thereby lowering the cost of goods,” Basuki said.

According to Basuki, the presence of Trans Papua Road also opens up the potential of the local economy, especially the tourism potential. He pointed out, the area that was once very difficult to reach such as from Ayawasi in Maybrat regency towards Petik Bintang, the road path is now open.

Erik Purnama Putra, Republika Journalist