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NGO investigation reveals failure of Jokowi's Depapre sea highway development

Tabloid Jubi - October 30, 2023

Jayapura, Jubi – The Democracy Alliance for Papua (ALDP) has revealed that the container port development in Depapre, located in Jayapura Regency, which is part of President Joko Widodo's Sea Highway policy, has been unsuccessful. This assessment is the outcome of an investigation carried out by ALDP from July 2021 to October 2023.

Antoni Ibra Nalaki, the Coordinator of ALDP's Administrative and General Division, presented the findings of this investigation on October 27, 2023, in Jayapura City. He revealed that the Ministry of Transportation's project aimed to establish a new Sea Highway route referred to as T-19, with the goal of enhancing connectivity in Papua and West Papua.

However, in reality, Ibra pointed out that the sea highway project in Depapre encountered problems right from the planning, development, and management stages. The NGO concluded that the program was a total failure as it failed to improve the economic well-being of the area. Additionally, the road leading to the port has suffered significant damage, and the funds allocated for its repair were allegedly misappropriated.

During the planning of the Depapre Sea Toll Port, the government engaged only three clans, Onggroitouw, Yarisetouw, and Soumilena, neglecting the rights of other clans in Depapre, such as Demetouw from Waiya and Supa, who also have claims to the sea affected by the Depapre sea highway project.

"Moreover, the preparation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (AMDAL) document for the Depapre port's construction did not involve or inform the community as customary rights owners," said Ibra.

The AMDAL document and the Depapre Port Master Plan from the Ministry of Transportation's Directorate General of Sea Transportation in 2015 were only made accessible to Depapre's indigenous people in 2018 after they, accompanied by ALDP, filed a public information dispute lawsuit at the Papua Information Commission.

People in the area claimed that they were unaware of the AMDAL document, and the government did not consider the impact on the indigenous people. The project resulted in the reclamation of traditional fishing areas like Tiyatiki and the conversion of coral reefs into land.

Customary rights to marine areas were not acknowledged, and losses due to the reclaimed coral reefs were not compensated, turning a project intended for economic prosperity into a source of problems.

The Depapre Port, intended to function as a container, bulk cement, and palm oil port, has seen limited progress, with the bulk cement and palm oil ports remaining inactive. The container port only conducted loading and unloading operations from January 2021 to July 2021.

A conflict over port management has emerged involving the central government, the Papua Provincial Government, and the Jayapura Regency Government. Labor recruitment at Depapre Port has been problematic, with thousands of loading and unloading workers not receiving their agreed-upon wages.

Furthermore, the plan to convert the container port into a passenger port by the end of 2022 has faced challenges, with passenger activities not operating effectively, and the duration of its operation remains uncertain.

In summary, Jokowi's Sea Highway project at Depapre Port has fallen short of its objectives. The promise of economic development through port activities, such as trade and employment, has not materialized due to the project's lack of activity. (*)

Source: https://en.jubi.id/ngo-investigation-reveals-failure-of-jokowis-depapre-sea-highway-development