Antara, Timika – The Mimika Legislative Council (DPRD), Papua province, wrote to President Joko Widodo or Jokowi in Jakarta, suggesting a temporary closure of PT Freeport Indonesia in an effort to curb the transmission of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Tembagapura.
After a meeting with the regional council, Mimika Regent Eltinus Omaleng asserted that the proposed closure for 14 days or one month was solely based on the consideration of the safety of thousands of Freeport employees.
Moreover, Eltinus reported that the number of workers exposed to the virus continued to increase. As of this Friday, May 8, as many as 56 people in Tembagapura have tested positive for COVID-19.
"If the employees keep going to work, we will not be able to break the chain of COVID-19 spread in Tembagapura," Eltinus underlined.
He elaborated that preventing the virus spread in the company was arduous as the physical distancing order could not be applied optimally given the limited space. Adding to the difficulties is the cold air temperature in Tembagapura and the Grasberg mine, which could even drop to below zero degrees Celcius.
"These conditions can be fatal if no precautionary measures are taken immediately," Eltinus remarked.
Eltinus went on to say that the Mimika administration and the DPRD could not close down the operations of the world's largest gold and copper mining company as it was a national vital object. "We can just ask for President [Jokowi's] directions and instructions," he said.
Previously, the Mimika COVID-19 Task Force spokesman, dr. Raynold Ubra, reported on May 2 that a total of 51 Freeport employees in Tembagapura had tested positive for COVID-19. Nine of them were being treated at Tembagapura Hospital, while others carried out independent isolation.