30 Nov 2016

Jakarta looks to give Papuans access to supply chain

8:10 am on 30 November 2016

Indonesia's government says its infrastructure development drive in Papua region aims to open up the supply chain for West Papuans.

Jayapura port, Papua province, Indonesia.

Jayapura port, Papua province, Indonesia. Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

The president Joko Widodo has commissioned a series of large infrastructure projects in the remote area such as the trans-Papua road, a railway system and major electricity programme.

The government official overseeing development projects in Papua said the focus was not just on transport and power infrastructure but also on education, heatlh and clean water facilities.

Judith Dipodiputro said they were empowering grassroots people to secure not only jobs but access to the supply chain.

"Now there's an issue of whether Papuans want to work, want to work hard instead of (being) easy money brokers and for that the different ministries are working at making these training centres meet the requirements of not only government programmes but of the private sector."

Judith Dipodiputro dismissed the suggestion that infrastructure development in Papua would further entrench marginalisation of Papuans.

The new Pharaa Market under construction in Sentani, Papua

The new Pharaa Market under construction in Sentani, Papua Photo: RNZI/Koroi Hawkins

She said discourse on social media was proof there is significant positivity about the government's development drive in Papua among the indigenous grassroots people.

She also said there is stability in Papua region despite media reports suggesting otherwise and she said there is a good understanding among the security forces of their role.

Ms Dipodiputro said this was because there is a clear job description for both Indonesia's police and military forces in Papua region.

She said, for instance, the police continued to have a key role to play in maintaining stability so that development could proceed.

"The fact that the chief of police is Papuan gives no room for accusations of the government not being fair, in the sense that when ever there is a case, it's a Papuan who is leading the investigations, a Papuan who is leading whatever is necessary to be done on the ground," said Ms Dipodiputro.

According to her, the central government has instilled a distinct sense of positivity in Papua and excitement about future prospects for the region in the two years since President Widodo came to power.