In a bid to overcome red tape and boost effectiveness in law enforcement at sea, President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo is set to launch a powerful new maritime body with integrated functions, similar to the coastguards of developed nations.
The Maritime Security Board (Bakamla) constitutes an evolution of the Maritime Security Coordinating Board (Bakorkamla) with more powerful roles and functions as well as a larger staff and fleet.
Mandated by the 2014 Law on Maritime Affairs, Bakamla is scheduled to be launched on Dec. 13 to coincide with Nusantara Day, according to Bakorkamla executive chairman Vice Admiral Desi Albert Mamahit.
'While Bakorkamla's general role is the coordination of all maritime stakeholders, Bakamla will have executive power. For example, its ships will be able to take immediate action if they witness violations of law at sea,' Mamahit said aboard the Indonesian Navy's Sultan Hasanuddin warship in Riau Islands waters last week.
The large number ' 12 ' of institutions involved in the country's maritime sector has for years been an obstacle to effective maritime law enforcement.
Bakorkamla, which employed personnel from maritime-related institutions such as the Navy, the Water Police, Customs, the Immigration agency, prosecutors' offices, the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the sea transportation directorate general, was initially established to bridge the institutions. Red tape and sectoral egotism, however, remained, with the 'toothless' Bakorkamla unable to take decisive action.
The new Bakamla is expected to fulfill the functions of all of the stakeholders at once. The Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs minister will be its ex-officio chairman, reporting directly to the president. An executive chairman will be appointed as day-to-day leader.
'Bakamla is expected to help aid the implementation of President Jokowi's vision to promote supremacy at sea, for example by combating rampant illegal fishing, as part of his 'world maritime axis' doctrine,' Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Tedjo Edy Purdjianto said recently.
Jokowi has repeatedly instructed law enforcers to take stern action against foreign ships poaching fish in Indonesian waters, if needs be by sinking them on the spot. In the past few weeks, the Navy and Water Police have stopped and sunk a number of foreign fishing boats operating illegally in Indonesian waters.
But Bakamla's remit stretches far beyond illegal fishing.
'Bakamla's ships will have a unique multi-mission service ' we call it 'one for all'. A Bakamla fleet can enforce the law against any kind of violation at sea, such as illegal fishing, smuggling, human trafficking and other crimes,' Mamahit said.
As an example, he said that currently, a patrol boat operated by the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry is powerless to act if it comes across a boat carrying timber suspected to be the product of illegal logging.
To support its extended functions and strengthened roles, Bakamla is expected to employ 2,000 personnel, five times more than Bakorkamla.
'To speed up recruitment, we plan to establish a special academy. In two or three years, Bakamla can begin to employ its graduates,' Mamahit said.
New vessels are also expected to be added to the three 48-meter-long ships currently operated by Bakorkamla.
'Next year, three more 48-meter ships will join our fleet, followed by three 80-meter ships the following year. In five years, we plan to operate around 30 ships including some of 100 meters,' revealed Mamahit, who is also rector of the National Defense University.
He added that the ships would be based in Batam, Riau Islands; Manado, North Sulawesi and Ambon, Maluku.
Some of the new vessels would be donated by certain countries, notably Australia, he said, while others were expected to be produced by local ship builders, such as KN Bintang Laut and KN Singa Laut, currently operated by Bakorkamla.