Jakarta – The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has asked the Indonesian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) to temporarily halt the construction of the Mandalika MotoGP circuit in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) due to reports of a land dispute with local residents.
The decision was made after the commission visited the construction location and met with locals on Monday to Wednesday.
"I've asked the ITDC to temporarily stop [construction] activity in the disputed area. They may continue construction in areas that are not being disputed," Komnas HAM commissioner Beka Ulung Hapsara said on Wednesday as reported by kompas.com.
Beka said the commission had received reports from 15 landowners.
"They complained about two main problems. The first is the fact that they are on the brink of getting evicted despite [the ITDC] having not paid them for their land. The second is they claimed to face intimidation from certain parties, so they don't feel safe," he said.
Masrup, a 65-year-old local, said he became depressed after the ITDC took 1.6 hectares of his land.
When he and his family members tried to prevent heavy equipment from dredging his land, he said they were stopped by police officers and forced to leave.
Another local, 46-year-old Jinalim, said officers continued to persuade him to allow the construction and asked him to sue the ITDC if he objected to his eviction.
"It's my land, why would I need to file a lawsuit?" he said.
The commission had contacted the ITDC regarding the complaints, however the company refuted the claims, saying that it had a legitimate right to continue the street circuit construction.
"We don't oppose the Mandalika circuit construction. However, we want the ITDC to fulfill the landowners' rights and demands. The company needs to discuss this dispute with them," Beka said.
Komnas HAM had also discussed the situation with NTB Governor Zulkieflimansyah, NTB Police chief Insp. Gen. M. Iqbal, and the NTB Prosecutor's Office.
Zulkieflimansyah expressed hope that Komnas HAM could settle the dispute between locals and the ITDC.
"We hope Komnas HAM could be a bridge [for the two parties] to solve this problem together, so that the construction project does not create commotion, as mandated by President Joko Widodo," he said.
Indonesia will host a prestigious MotoGP event after securing a deal with Dorna Sports, the MotorGP rights holder, for a race slot in the 2021 season. The deal was sealed in January 2019 by the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), the state-owned company responsible for developing the Mandalika Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in which the circuit is located.
The 4.32 kilometer racetrack will have 19 bends, with images of the circuit's backdrop of mountains and pristine beaches to be beamed around the world, promoting Mandalika as a world-class tourist destination.
The circuit complex will feature a 50,000-seat grandstand and standing area with a capacity of 138,000. It will also host hospitality suites with a capacity for 7,700 visitors and a paddock area that can fit 40 garages.
The 1,175 ha Mandalika SEZ, one the government's five super-priority tourist destinations, is earmarked to be an entertainment and sports event district. (nal)