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Foreign minister: Hera naval base will cause problems

Dili Weekly - July 26, 2013

The Timor-Leste Defence Force (F-FDTL) plan to install a naval base in Hera will cause a lot of problems for the community living in Hera, according to the Director of security monitoring organization Fundasaun Mahein.

Fundasaun Mahein Director Nelson Belon said their report, on the impacts of the naval base on the economy, environment and military, had the objective of informing the government so they could carefully measure the idea before implementing their plans.

"We know the majority of the community living in Hera make a living through agriculture, so if the land in Hera becomes a component of the navel base it will have an impact on their lives," said Director Belo at the launch of the report at Hotel Ramelau, Dili.

Apart from that he said there would also be an impact on the environment, as there are two rivers in the area that encircle the base and every year the rivers flow.

"And now if we dig to create a slope it could cause a landslide, and the plants will not hold their ground and could be swept up into the river, and the result is the river could get bigger and threaten the community who live near the river's edge," he said.

Therefore, Fundasaun Mahein recommended the government revise this plan, and called on the government to study geological, social, economic and cultural aspects before implementing this plan.

Meanwhile, Hera Village Chief Simon Pedro, who participated in the launch of the report, recognized that the F-FDTL had started marking the area to put the plan into practice.

"They have put planks in several areas and they said this is the area of the Naval Force, but there were households that used that land since the Indonesian period," said Village Chief Pedro.

He said he did not know how many hectares of land the Naval Force would use, and said he did not have information about this. "We do not know how many kilometres of land they will use or how much land in length and width," said the Village Chief.

In response to this concern, Naval Component Captain Higino das Neves said before using the land, the government would approach the communities who lived in the area. "But these lands are not utilized at all," Captain das Neves said.