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Jakarta Post

Trans-Papua road project suspended amid worsening security

  • Arnold Belau

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, December 4, 2018   /   02:17 pm
Trans-Papua road project suspended amid worsening security President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo gets ready to inspect the progress of the trans-Papua road project on a trail bike in Wamena on May 10. (Courtesy/State Palace)

The government in Jakarta has decided to suspend construction work on some parts of the trans-Papua road project following reports that armed Papuan rebels have allegedly killed dozens of workers in Nduga regency, Papua. 

Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono told reporters on Tuesday the government would suspend the construction of 35 bridges on the 278-kilometer road that is to connect Wamena and Mamugu.

“With this incident, we will stop all the work from Wamena to Mamugu while waiting for the situation to be conducive [for continuing],” he said.

The National Police and the Indonesian Military (TNI) are still investigating claims that between 28 and 31 workers building a bridge on Yigi-Kali Aurak River in Nduga were shot dead by members of a National Liberation Army of West Papua faction led by Egianus Kogoya.

Read also: OPM gunmen accused of massacring 31 construction workers

According to the police, the incident took place after one of the workers — most of whom come from South Sulawesi — took a photo of a pro-Papuan independence ceremony on Saturday.

The workers were reportedly murdered on Sunday.

Two state-owned construction firms — PT Istaka Karya and PT Brantas Abipraya — are responsible for the construction work along the road.

PT Istaka has been assigned to build 14 bridges, 11 of which are under construction. PT Brantas, meanwhile, has been tasked with building 21 bridges and is currently working on five of them.   

PT Brantas has halted the construction of some bridges based on the recommendation of the Papuan military command, Basuki said.

“In Papua, we couldn’t work without guaranteed security. The security coordinating center called for the projects to be suspended.”

The development of the 4,300-kilometer trans-Papua road in Papua and West Papua provinces in Indonesia’s easternmost provinces is expected to be completed this year, Basuki said last year.  

Despite the work suspension, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who is seeking re-election and has been touting his infrastructure drive in his campaigns, made assurances that the development in Papua would continue.

“Papua's infrastructure development will not stop because of this.”

The government, along with PT Istaka Karya, the construction company for which the allegedly murdered men worked, has yet to confirm the number of victims in Sunday’s killings. It was previously reported by the National Police that as many as 31 workers had died.

“There were 28 workers in the location — the workers came from South Sulawes i— which we expect to be victims now, but we will confirm it later,” PT Istaka Karya's president director, Sigit Inarto, said. (ggq)