Kopko Eko Prasetyo (31 years old) was assigned to the security mission in Kenyam District, Jayawijaya Regency, Papua, some time ago. Eko who served in Infantry Battalion 754 / Eme Neme Kangasi (ENK) departed with dozens of colleagues using trucks. On the way from his residence on Jalan Trans Nabire Mile 32, Kuala Kencana District, Timika, it took him about three hours to travel 50 kilometers.
“In this Kenyam area, I am in charge of two weeks, and another co-chairs are assigned for six months and are on guard at security monitoring posts. The Trans Papua Road passes this area” said Eko in a discussion on Wednesday (27/12).
For two weeks in Kenyam, Eko circumnavigated the area and took a walk along the recently completed Trans Papua Road. Eko has lost count of the the various areas of the easternmost provinces in Indonesia. Eko, who has been working for 12 years in Timika, has been repeatedly assigned the special task of safeguarding the security of separatist disturbances, including maintaining PT Freeport’s assets.
Eko admitted, the existence of Trans Papua Road really opens the isolation of citizens who want to travel across different districts. The reason is that previously, Papuans had to take a winding road through the forest with challenging conditions. Therefore, he continued, Papua residents and security apparatus sometimes prefer air transports to the neighboring district area rather than take the land route that the natural conditions are very hard to pass.
According to Eko, the existence of Trans Papua Road really helps the movement of soldiers. “What I know (the road goes) from Batu Batas area in Merauke regency and continues to Kenyam in Jayawijaya regency, then passes through Paro and Mugi districts in Nduga district. This road is wide, there are four lanes, two on the left and another two on the right. Not all good, but I know that in Kenyam, the road is good,” said Eko recalling his last official duty around the area.
According to Eko, the construction of Trans Papua Road is not perfect and there is still work here and there. Along the road, he sees many soldiers along with the project workers work hand in hand, trying to complete the road construction. He even had a ride on a motorcycle to try out the road with his colleagues, and felt comfortable during the trip.
Eko said, with the Trans Papua Road, there is an increase in the activity of West Papuans. That’s because the area now has access connected to other areas so the journey from and to certain places becomes shorter. “It used to be an ordinary road, penetrating the forest, just not as wide as it is now, it just had to use a four-wheeled vehicle. Now we can use a regular motorcycle to pass, with the width is up to eight meters,” said Eko who was born in Malang, East Java.
He continued, the existence of Trans Papua Road is like a toll road in Java Island. That’s because there are two paths available and has been done hardening, although not yet paved. As a result, the vehicle through the road can go easily with the bonus of incredible natural scenery.
“As far as I know, some parts have not been paved, but I do not know whether it is paved all now or not because this line is connected with that passed by President Jokowi with the (former) armed forces commander Pak Gatot while riding the motor trying the road,” said Eko.
On May 5, 2017, President Jokowi was accompanied by then the Armed Forces Commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo and the Army Chief of Staff General Mulyono, as well as some Cabinet Ministers on trail bikes reviewing the 7km-long Wamena-Habeman TransJakarta Road project. Jokowi admitted that the difficult terrain in West Papua has become an obstacle as well as a challenge for the development of infrastructure projects.
Jokowi also appreciated the Ministry of Public Works and People’s Housing (PUPR) that works with the Army for the acceleration of development from the beginning until now. “So this was initially done by the Army first, then after the path is open, the Ministry of Public Works entered for asphalt paving, to follow what has been done by the Army,” said Jokowi in his statement.
Republika News had interviewed General Mulyono on a separate occasion regarding the involvement of the Army in the construction of Trans Papua Road. According Mulyono, since the beginning, the road construction in Papua has been conducted by the Army, especially from the Directorate of Zeni. He said the Army soldiers were asked by the central government through the PUPR Ministry to open access so that contractors could work easily. “Because of the terrain and heavy conditions, the Army soldiers were mobilized to make way,” Mulyono said.
He stated that the construction of Trans Papua Road has proved to have a great impact on the economic activities of the people. That’s because now West Papuans that have been isolated can travel by using two-wheeled vehicles. Satisfied with the work of Army soldiers, he continued, the Ministry of PUPR again recommends the cooperation of the Army to open the forest by deploying heavy equipment owned by the Directorate of Zeni and contractors so that road construction can be completed on target.
“It’s actually a road project with a contract of a few kilometers. Previously, the project has just finished. Then yesterday the Ministry of PUPR invites us again to work on interconnecting roads between different areas. The soldiers deployed are from Jakarta and surrounding areas to support the acceleration of development of the Trans Papua road in West Papua,” said Mulyono who is also responsible for the operation of Trans Papua Road construction.
Mulyono said, during duty in the field the Army not only cut down trees and open forests, but also make the way. Furthermore, the tasks of the Ministry of PUPR and the appointed contractors to complete the road construction work. “Through working in parallel, the nest contractors can go straight to hardening and paving.”
Grow the West Papua economy
The Trans Papua road extends from Sorong, West Papua to Merauke, Papua, reaching around 4,330 km or almost six times the length of Jakarta-Surabaya. This National Strategic Project is targeted to be completed by 2019. The project that has been done since President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) era and has been intensified since Jokowi became the President of the Republic of Indonesia in 2014.
Until now, the Ministry of PUPR together with the Army Zeni continue to work on completing the very last bit of construction of the 479.04 km (11 percent). In fact, it is a bit slower than the targeted that it should be around 366.2 km or 8 percent left in the end of this year. But, Minister PUPR Basuki Hadimuljono said, the construction of Trans Papua Road has been very heavy and challenging, ie through mountains, forests, ravines, and rivers, which makes the work is not smooth.
Constraints often faced in the field include the heavy weather and ridged field conditions, so that officials often have difficulty bringing materials and heavy equipment to the location. Basuki said, in order to realize the whole Trans Papua Road to be connected, the current development is focused in the Enarotali-Ilaga-Mulia-Wamena segment, reaching 513.15 km. Until the end of 2017, around 371,75 km of this segment has been well constructed. Thanks to the synergy with the Army, he continued, the 90 km road from Wamena-Habema-Mbua is now functional.
“Trans Papua’s development does not merely link the Papua and West Papua provinces, but also opens up isolated regions and thereby lowers the prices of goods,” Basuki said.
According to Basuki, the presence of Trans Papua Road can also optimizes up the potential of the local economy, especially the tourism potential that has long been hidden. He pointed out, the area that was once very difficult to reach such as from Ayawasi in Maybrat regency towards Petik Bintang street path is now open!
The path was previously very difficult to pass because of steep cliffs and road conditions were slippery alongside vulnerable to landslides in the rain. But with the recent development, the journey from Maybrat to Manokwari can be passed safely. The opening of the path also triggers the development of tourism potential that fascinates the passers.
Head of National Road Implementation Center XVII of West Papua Yohak Tuling Todingrara mentioned, economic potential in areas along the Trans Papua Road is very large. It is not only for tourism, actually, but also for triggering the growth of new settlements because it created connectivity from Sorong to Merauke. Therefore, when the Trans Papua Road is connected then the economy of the citizens can increase with the support of good infrastructure.
“Our hope throughout the program is the growing new settlements. Here, also the potential of natural scenery is huge,” said Tulak who had accompanied President Jokowi and General Gatot Nurmantyo passing through the Trans Papua Road.
On a separate occasion, General Gatot Nurmantyo who tried several times the Trans Papua Road, including the Wamena-Mamugu section, said that the West Papuans already feel the benefits of the road being built. He explained that the road works have been deploying various units of the Army, including battalions and detachments of the Army Zeni, and Kodam XVII / Cenderawasih. The heavy equipment owned by TNI AD are also deployed, in the form of excavators, bulldozers, graders, dump trucks, tandem rollers, tyred rollers, vibro rollers, and water tanks.
According to Gatot, the TNI also uses explosives to destroy cliffs and clean swamp areas to be used as a road. “With the construction of Wamena-Mamugu pavement road facilitate the community activities in distributing goods to and from Jayawijaya and surrounding areas. Usually they go through the river for 12 hours, but now using the land route it only takes three hours, “he said.
Gatot also expressed his gratitude for togetherness and the help of the community to jointly build the road. This is because many local West Papuan residents also support the smooth construction of Trans Papua Road.
The role of Astra
Although rarely mentioned, there is a large role of PT Astra International Tbk, in the construction of Trans Papua Road. This is because heavy equipment deployed by the Ministry of PUPR and which is used by road construction contractors is dominated by PT United Tractors output products. Please note, PT United Tractors is a subsidiary of Astra which is engaged in the sale of heavy equipment.
United Tractors Corporate Secretary Sara Loebis said it did not have any exact data on who purchased the company’s heavy equipment. According to her, it is not the main contractors who bought heavy equipment, but also subcontractors. “We frankly do not have data where our heavy equipment is selling, so we do not search for further purchases for use on which projects,” said Sara.
However, Sara was proud to be informed of her company’s major role in the government’s prestigious project, the construction of Trans Papua Road. This is because the majority of appointed contractors work on Trans Papua Road, deploying heavy equipment, such as tractors, bulldozers, to excavators that are United Tractors’ products.
Therefore, Sara was amazed and happy to support the continuity of this major road building project. Because, the construction of the road can make inter-regional connectivity in Papua connect 3 million people there so they can be free from isolation areas.
Moreover, the company has a satellite office that is ready to supply heavy equipment needed to accelerate the completion of government projects. Thus, United Tractors would like to contribute more in the provision of heavy equipment to support the acceleration of the construction of Trans Papua Road.
“United Tractors is ready to support government-run infrastructure projects through the provision of heavy equipment and reliable after-sales service. Wherever the project site is, we ensure that we have a distribution network that consists of 20 branches, 22 jobsite offices, and 10 representative offices ready to serve the country,” said Sara proud.
Written by: Erik Purnama Putra, Republika Journalist