Nani Afrida, Kupang – In an effort to curb rampant fuel and narcotics smuggling, Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu plans to add more posts to the border of Indonesia and Timor Leste.
"We will add more [posts] and replace old weapons with new ones," Ryamizard told reporters in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, recently, after visiting Batek island, Indonesia, and Mota'ain, Timor Leste.
Batek is one of the 12 islands in Indonesia located in the border area of Indonesia and Timor Leste, while Mota'ain is a village in Bobonaro district, Timor Leste, that is directly connected with Indonesia's West Timor.
Ryamizard said the current number of posts was not enough to secure the Indonesian side of the border.
Indonesia has deployed its troops to its eastern and western borders with Timor Leste. The western border has 19 posts while the eastern border has 20 posts.
Ryamizard, however, did not reveal detailed information on which areas the additional posts were to be located.
The border between Indonesia and Timor Leste is supervised by the Korem Wira Sakti Military Command, which is under the Kodam Udayana Regional Military Command. The Korem is also responsible for guarding outer islands like Batek and Dana Rote, the latter of which is an outer island between Indonesia and Australia.
Korem Wira Sakti commander Brig. Gen. Achmad Yulianto revealed that narcotics and fuel smugglers found it easy to cross the border between Indonesia and Timor Leste.
"We need at least 59 posts to secure our territory," Achmad said during a gathering with Ryamizard and his staff. According to Achmad, there should be one post at every five kilometers of the border.
During the visit to the border area, the minister also met the soldiers who guarded the areas and asked their needs as well as the barriers they faced securing the border.
"The border post in a town [like Mota'ain] is OK, but those in remote areas are not [in good condition]. We will improve them," Ryamizard said.
The main problem for soldiers on Batek, which is part of Indonesia's Kupang regency, is clean water and the poor condition of the posts. "[The soldiers] consume seawater and many posts have almost collapsed," Ryamizard said. Today, Batek is guarded by 22 soldiers from the marines and the Army.
Maj. Arwan Minarta, the spokesperson of Korem Wira Sakti, said Batek Island was a coral island and had no clean water. "It is challenging to stay on the island. The soldiers must go to other islands for food using boats and purify sea water so it can be drinkable," Arwan said.
During the visit, Ryamizard also said disputes still occurred in the border area. "We hope the government can settle the disputes so we can work more easily on the border," said Capt. Danang Waluyo, a soldier guarding the border.
According to Danang, the dispute over the area between the two countries made the soldiers' tasks harder, as they did not want to clash with Timor Leste civilians. Ryamizard said the government would address the obstacles and improve the soldiers' welfare.