The Jakarta Post
As an effort to prevent COVID-19 transmission in the country’s easternmost province, the government has imposed limitations on passenger transportation to Papua in response to the provincial administration’s request to restrict people’s mobility from and to the region.
The Transportation Ministry’s Sea Transportation Directorate General announced on Thursday a temporary closure of passenger ports in Papua, preventing passenger ships from entering them. Such access closure had been agreed to by the government, regional administrations and all maritime stakeholders.
“As a form of prevention, control measurement and social distancing regarding COVID-19, we closed passenger ports from March 26 to April 9,” said Jayapura Port Authority Office head Ferra J. Alfaris in Jayapura on Thursday.
She warned people planning to visit the province in the near future to postpone their plan. Ferra went on to say that she hoped people would not join any mass gathering or meeting in regards of social distancing measures.
Previously, the Papua provincial administration decided to close its ports and airports to passenger transportation as an effort to prevent COVID-19 from spreading by limiting people's mobility.
The decision was made on Tuesday by Governor Lukas Enembe along with the regional leaders' coordinating forum (Forkompinda) and regents. The restriction took effect on Thursday.
The policy, however, only applies to human passengers as the transportation of goods would continue as usual, Lukas said.
Transportation providers have started to follow the provincial administration’s policy.
Low-cost Lion Air Group announced on Thursday a suspension of its flights from and to Papua from March 26 to April 9. The suspension is effective for all flights operated by the group airlines, namely Wings Air, Lion Air and Batik Air.
“The suspension is in accordance with the notification [we received] from the Airport Authority for Regional Division X regarding the closure of passenger flights at airports in Papua. This is taken in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Lion Air Group spokesperson Danang Mandala Printoro said on Thursday.
Normally, the group operates 35 flights to and from Papua every day.
The Transportation Ministry’s Civil Aviation Directorate General's spokesperson, Budi Prayitno, said there was no closure of airports across the province so far. However, the ministry had received a request from the provincial administration regarding restricting access for passenger flights.
“There’s little chance for airports in Papua to be closed down because the airports also serve other purposes such as cargo and logistics flights, as well as medical and humanitarian,” Budi said.
The directorate general was discussing the restriction plan with local airport authorities, as well as with the regional government, he said.
The number of COVID-19 positive cases in Papua has increased in the past few days. As of Thursday, health authorities have confirmed seven positive cases – rising from only three the previous day.